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Jessica Brown,
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Jon Craig,
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Jane Prendergast,
Cincinnati City Hall reporter


Malia Rulon,
Enquirer Washington bureau


Carl Weiser,
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Howard Wilkinson,
politics reporter

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Council spends $800,000 to study streetcars

UPDATED, 3 p.m.

Jane Prendergast reports from City Hall:

Cincinnati will spend $800,000 to study the feasibility of extending a proposed streetcar line from downtown to Uptown.

City Council agreed to the appropriation this afternoon, but not until members debated the issue again for about 30 minutes. The money comes from City Manager Milton Dohoney and city officials sorting through accounts from other capital improvement projects, some dating back years, and finding leftover money.

Three council members opposed the expenditure: Roxanne Qualls, Chris Monzel and John Cranley.

Qualls voted against it because she said it spent money without council first having given the admninistration clear direction to make sure the streetcar line goes to Uptown. The city's initial proposal put a line from downtown through Over-the-Rhine, but kept the more northern piece to the area around the University of Cincinnati as a second phase. Several council members have said they do not believe a streetcar line would support itself if it doesn't connect the city's two main job centers, downtown and Uptown.

Chris Bortz, a main proponent of the streetcar plan, encouraged his colleagues to think of the study as just the next step in the process, not as a huge deal.


"We're not breaking ground," he said. "We're not buying (street) cars, we're not buying track."

Council voted after Vice Mayor David Crowley requested permission to speak and said: "I t hink everything's been said. Let's vote."



Earlier posting:

Cincinnati could take the next step on streetcars today if City Council approves spending $800,000 on a study of taking the proposed streetcar lines from downtown to Uptown, around the Clifton area hospitals and the University of Cincinnati.

City Manager Milton Dohoney gathered up the money from various pots of cash left unspent from other projects, some of which dated back years.

Council members also are scheduled to vote on whether to ask the Ohio General Assembly to put a gambling referendum on the November ballot. It would allow counties – like Hamilton County - that border states that allow new casinos to allow those neighboring Ohio counties to open casinos as well.

That’s aimed at letting local counties compete for dollars with Northern Kentucky, where several casinos have been proposed,

Council meets at 2 p.m. in City Hall, 801 Plum St.

See the full agenda here.


77 Comments:

at 11:37 AM, March 12, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

I *truly* hope the first phase of the streetcar plan includes Clifton/Uptown. Connecting the two main economic hubs of Cincinnati makes too much sense for us not to do it. I agree with Cranley: Stopping in OTR is a death-sentence for the project.

 
at 11:39 AM, March 12, 2008 Blogger usefullidiot said...

Is there giong to be enough money to keep the pools open ALL summer?

 
at 11:58 AM, March 12, 2008 Anonymous Greg Harris said...

The first loop of street cars can be built in the next three years, and during this time the region can aggressively pursue state & federal money to fund the next phase connecting uptown. We cannot afford to do both at once. But our ability to get federal funds will be enhanced if the first part of the system is already built. Moreover, the economic development dividends of phase one will increase the likelihood of developers paying for development rights along the phase two grid. And I can almost guarantee entrepreneurial Northern Kentucky we’ll want to link in once the riverfront/downtown/OtR street car loop is built.

Aside from riverfront development, our city doesn't have a great many opportunities to generate new wealth that will benefit all Cincinnati neighborhoods. Transit is a proven strategy to generate significant new urban core investment, and will generate new property tax and other revenue for the entire city.

 
at 12:01 PM, March 12, 2008 Blogger Beer Baron Bryon said...

The $800,000 to study the Uptown line is a necessity to secure federal dollars for that phase (this process could take up to, and beyond, 3 yrs). This is a great step, but the first phase (OTR) construction needs to be started ASAP. When we secure the federal money, we can then begin the Uptown phase. Both are very integral parts of this puzzle. If we ignore the Phase one proposal (Downtown/OTR) it is a death sentence for Over-the-Rhine.

 
at 12:04 PM, March 12, 2008 Blogger powerjam9 said...

I just hope that this rail line construction starts... Period...... It will be a win for the city if it is downtown/OTR or downtown/Uptown connection......

 
at 12:07 PM, March 12, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

With all the armed holdups around UC, City Council better hire some of those Elite guards to ride the rails.
Streetcar passengers will be sitting ducks; another Freedom Center boondoggle.

 
at 12:14 PM, March 12, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

They'll talk about gambling and streetcars?
Or gambling on streetcars?

Any river city can have gambling on boats.
Ours would be the only one to have gambling on streetcars.

 
at 12:18 PM, March 12, 2008 Anonymous Corey said...

The street car must stop in OTR, people who think it's a "death-sentence" are out of touch with what's happening in that neighborhood. A lot of people are moving into the a neighborhood and they need to be able to move around without driving to different points in the city.
I live in OTR and find it hard to get to places that are close to Fountain Square. (and the banks, when it gets finished) I don't want to drive, and paying for parking seems silly when I'm only going a few miles, but it's too far to walk.
With gas prices going the way they are, I think people will be jumping on the streetcars.
In the past, people have been reluctant to use public transportation, but that's because we're still stuck in our car mentality, but that's changing.
For the first time in decades, our use fuel consumption has dropped.
The people of Cincinnati need more options.
Linking it to Clifton seems like a good idea, I'm just not sure why we need to spend $800k to figure it out. Asking people what they currently do, or how they think they'll do things in the future doesn't seems relevant when talking about a service that people in this city haven't seem before. (Think cel phones and bottled water)
I spent my honeymoon in San Fransisco, they have every kind of transportation imaginable, and they all are heavily used. The same will happen here when people get use to the idea.
People who don't live in the city need to stop thinking of downtown as a mall or a place to bar hop. It's a community, people live and work here.

 
at 12:24 PM, March 12, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

If this project does go in to Clifton it will be nothing more than a Pub craw bus...

 
at 12:31 PM, March 12, 2008 Anonymous JFD said...

Streetcars Downtown ? Yes!
Streetcars Uptown ? Yes!
Downtown Casino, At The Banks, In A Soon To Be Empty Museum ? Yes!

 
at 12:42 PM, March 12, 2008 Blogger Chris S said...

Cranely is opposed to the streetcar, period. Whether it goes uptown, or not. Cranley's noises about getting the line uptown are just that, noises. Specifically, noises designed to throw a wrench into the process. He knows as well as anyone that any plan to do the downtown loop at the same time as the uptown loop cannot succeed for finance reasons. We need to get shovels in the ground to get those federal dollars to build the uptown link. Getting the funding for the uptown study is a good solid first step, and it shows commitment to building that uptown line.

 
at 12:45 PM, March 12, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cincinnati City Council never met a boondogle it did not like. For those who are chomping at the bit for the latest boondogle (thy name be streetcars) be patient - city council will soon be throwing dollars towards this thing faster than a Tarbell chasing a mugger.

 
at 12:54 PM, March 12, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will the budget provide funding for armed guards on each streetcar?

 
at 12:57 PM, March 12, 2008 Anonymous JT said...

So let me get this right, we're going to spend all this money for people to ride streetcars for a few blocks? Downtown/OTR isn't big enough to need this, it's not that far of a walk to/from anywhere downtown. While it would be nice for winter/lousy weather, I'm not sure it justifies the expense.

 
at 1:05 PM, March 12, 2008 Anonymous james lynch said...

question why would i want to pay to ride a streetcar to take me to a place where i dont want to go. until the city can curb some the violence and drugs in otr ill be staying far away from it. as for the gambling im for it. its endless money from taxes pretty much. if people can just get over the own sense of righteousness and except the fact that people are going to gamble whether the casino is here or in indiana or kentucky. i hope the city doesnt drop the ball on this like they do with most everything else

 
at 1:09 PM, March 12, 2008 Anonymous Roselawn Resident said...

The claim that the study is necessary in order to get federal funds is a scam! In case one hasn't noticed, the Feds don't have the money to invest in infrastructure and that is why we will be paying tolls to cross the Ohio river.

The proponents of this boondoggle hired the same scam artists that CPS used to con the voters into approving a bond levy that was going to build and improve sixty some school buildings. Any realistic analysis of their claims would have proved the ridiculousness of this claims.

This is a project that will sap capital investment in the rest of the city for years to come and require a never ending city subsidy .

If OTR owners and 3CDC want this, have them cough up the funds to build instead of making the rest of the city continue to spend money on OTR development that we have heard for years is turning the corner.

 
at 1:19 PM, March 12, 2008 Anonymous Corey said...

JT, I'm guessing you don't live downtown. It is a far walk. I live up by Liberty, it takes 20+ minutes for me to walk to Fountain Square. If I buy some stuff, it's 20+ minutes back, carrying a bunch of stuff.
Findlay Market is about the same distance, I can't carry my groceries that far every week.
For now I drive, and that's sad.
Armed guards? Wow, downtown isn't scary, you people are just scared. Get over it.
I've lived downtown for 4 years, not one problem. Of all the people I know that live downtown, one of them got there car broken into, one time, but that happens everywhere.
The city is trying to make a change for the better, I don't understand this mentality of, "the city use to suck, so it MUST always suck"
Grow up, the world is passing to by, and you're just sitting around complaining.

 
at 1:22 PM, March 12, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is it that I have to pay for numerous improvements to neighborhoods that I don’t live in or travel to? I don’t ride the metro, don’t use the convention center, lived here all my life and been to the West Side about three times, same goes for Anderson (I mean, do we really need another way to get Batavia?) – but I am sure that there are projects that my tax dollars have gone to fund on which I did not get a chance to vote, felt obligated to render an opinion on, and have not directly utilized – not to mention am personally opposed to (sprawl, pollution anyone?) The streetcars are for the improvement of our city, a portion which concentrates, btw, more jobs than Anderson, Batavia, and the West Side combined. So what if you won’t use it because of some outdated, misguided, ill-informed view of Downtown, Over-the-Rhine, and Uptown. Stay in the suburbs, but at least return a financial favor and keep quiet!

 
at 1:32 PM, March 12, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

We already have one form of taxpayer subsidized mass transit with the bus system. Will the operation of this street car system also be taxpayer subsidized in perpituity?
Also people on this blog talk about "state" money or "federal" money like it came from Mars or something. Did it ever occur to you that it is your money?

 
at 1:41 PM, March 12, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 1:22
If people don't use the system and stay in the burbs, it will be another project that requires constant taxpayer funding like the Freedom Center.
I won't use the streetcar (too much crime in those areas) and I'll never visit the Freedom Center (the entrance is on the wrong side).
I remember all the rosy talk about the FC attracting out of town visitors and being self-supporting. What a joke!

 
at 1:52 PM, March 12, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

They will not need armed guard as long as the cars are downtown. All of the criminials were moved to Westwood and Price Hill.

 
at 1:57 PM, March 12, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry - I believe we taxpayers also subsidize the highway system, every street, pothole, snow removal, paving, grass mowing, overpass, exit ramp, traffic light, crosswalk - not to mention the travesty created when thousands are displaced for a new connector - whether or not wer own a car. Please - you are not entitled to roads either.

 
at 2:11 PM, March 12, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Subarbanites will pay for the streetcar because a suburb without a city is worthless as will be you propery value. Ohio and cincinnati need to jump into the the modern era. The freedom center needs shops and condos around it, not a parking lot for boring suburbanites. If your afraid to be downtown, then be afraid to get in your car...its more risky.

 
at 2:23 PM, March 12, 2008 Anonymous Greg Harris said...

JT--street cars really aren't simply about literal transportation to save people from having to walk or drive a few blocks. It's about economic development (that also pays environmental dividends). A recent independent cost benefit analysis projected $15 in new economic activity for every $1 dollar invested. This is because once the street car grid is defined, development will cluster around that grid. Downtown alone has over 95 acres of parking lots, and OtR has numerous vacant buildings. Street cars will embolden property owners and developers to build on these parking lots and/or redevelop historic properties. This isn't theoretical. We've seen in cities across America how development clusters around transit that's permanent (unlike, say, bus routes, which serve a different kind of purpose).

The money captured from this system will not stay within the neighborhoods that house the system. It will benefit all 52 neighborhoods, generating new wealth and easing our tax burden as a result.

 
at 2:38 PM, March 12, 2008 Blogger Taxed to death said...

I'm tired of seeing this town use most the available money for so few of the citizens. Can't even keep the pools open but we will spend 800,000 for a study of a railway that a very small percent of our taxpayers will use. Let those few pay for it by taxing the property that is along the right of way. As for the banks project, I resent the wealthy will be the only people that can afford to use MY PROPERTY. %That land also belongs to EVERY tax paying citizen in Cincinnati!!! Ever since Longview Mental HOspital closed down, the residents from there are ending up on our city council. The best bet for clearing up this problem is move out of Cincinnati as many have done over the last decade.

 
at 2:42 PM, March 12, 2008 Anonymous Kent Evans said...

Mr. Harris,

There's no study which says streetcars will bring in $15/1 dollar benefit. In fact at the finance committee meeting, a proponent said there was one study which said it brought $.20 to the dollar cost. I didn't see you there so you'll have to take my word for it. One year ago where was this topic? If you can be honest let's at least say there's no emergency on this. If it has merit, a few years of planning can't hurt it.

 
at 2:43 PM, March 12, 2008 Blogger Quim said...

The downtown loop should also be good for tourism as someone in town for one event, like a ballgame, will be able to get to the Aronoff or the shops around Findlay Market without having to drag their car out of the hotel garage & figuring out which one way street to take where.
I do NOT see why the downtown & uptown loops need to be connected. Why deal with needless layovers when you can take one bus for the longer distance.

 
at 2:56 PM, March 12, 2008 Blogger Beer Baron Bryon said...

To "taxed to death":

I find it hard to believe that more citizens of Cincinnati use city pools than would ride the streetcars.

To your point "Let those few pay for it by taxing the property that is along the right of way"...I agree. If you do some research though ( http://www.cincinnati-oh.gov/city/downloads/city_pdf17434.pdf ) you would realize that $25 Million of the project is going to be funded by TIF. Which essentially means that IT WILL be paid for by those "few"…of which I am one.

And don’t worry, I would be more than happy to have you come downtown and enjoy the streetcar that I paid for. The more the merrier :)

 
at 3:00 PM, March 12, 2008 Anonymous Eliz. said...

Corey, I totally agree with you! People who say a half-mile isn't a far distance to walk have never tried it with two gallons of milk. (or have never tried it at all; you've heard of the correlation between suburban sprawl and obesity, haven't you?)

Some places are too far to walk, and you really can't bike in this town either (too many hills and bad drivers).

Yes, we have a bus system, but it's notorious for not being on time. Streetcars and subways don't tend to have this problem.

Streetcars needing armed guards? Why would they need them any more than a bus (which doesn't)? Listen, if you're dense enough to ask that question, don't worry your pretty little head about it. The world doesn't revolve around your isolated suburban neighborhood anyway.

 
at 3:13 PM, March 12, 2008 Anonymous JT said...

Corey, you made some good points that I hadn't thought of. I have never lived downtown, but I worked downtown for the better part of about eight years. I was thinking more along the lines of why I go from place to place downtown, for entertainment. But you're right, it would be a ways to walk when you're downtown all the time, and doing your shopping there as well. Greg Harris brought some good points up as well. I guess I'm just so used to council screwing everything up, that I had to assume this was a waste of time too. Thanks to both of you for the ideas though, I'll have to re-think my position on this one.

 
at 3:21 PM, March 12, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Qualls needs to return to academe.

 
at 3:24 PM, March 12, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the matter with you people? Build the friggin Jail with the "leftover taxpayer dollars'

 
at 3:28 PM, March 12, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an enormous waste of money our schools are failing and falling down around us no one even won’t to go downtown anymore. When the streetcars are built I bet they wont be around 10 years until it goes under.

 
at 3:29 PM, March 12, 2008 Anonymous Corey said...

Taxed to death...people aren't moving out of downtown, they're moving too downtown. Have you looked around lately? A lot of vacant building are getting rehabbed, and getting filled with people (tax dollars).
It's a little funny that you say you're taxed to death, you don't like the banks having nice condos because you can't live there, then you say you'd like to raise the taxes on people who happen to live by the street cars. As you complain it's too expensive, you're trying to make it more expensive.

 
at 3:39 PM, March 12, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

WHY DON'T YOU TAKE THE $800.000 AND THROW IT IN THE RIVER AND SEE IF IT FLOATS. WE ARE PAYING $3.50 A GALLON FOR GAS, A BAG OF GROCERIES COST $30.00 WE CAN'T FIND ENOUGH FUNDING TO KEEP THE SCHOOLS OPEN, YOU SHUT DOWN GAMBLING AND MAKE INDIANA RICH FROM ALL US. STUPID WAY OF SPENDING THIS KIND OF MONEY,AND BY THE WAY, WHO DO YOU THINK IS GOING TO USE IT.

 
at 3:49 PM, March 12, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still haven't heard a cogent argument about why the streetcar is better than the bus.
More reliable? How--it will still have to contend with the traffic? In my experience Metro buses are pretty reliable.
Bigger spur for development? The buses are more flexible in terms of routing. That's part of what the fight is about--lay the track and that's it, no chance to change the route.
It seems to me that the big draw is the cool factor--how cool to have a streetcar system.

And oh yes, MANY MORE PEOPLE use the city pools than would use the streetcar. Look at the numbers alone--there are numerous pools all over the city. When it takes private donations to prevent the city from closing all but a handful at the end of July, but Dohoney can magically find $800,000 for a streetcar study, something's wrong.

 
at 3:56 PM, March 12, 2008 Anonymous Greg Harris said...

Mr. Evans,

HDR performed a feasibility study that was submitted to Council last May. Below I've provided a link to the study. Slide 35 provides the estimated benefit to cost ratio.

http://www.cincinnati-oh.gov/city/downloads/city_pdf16341.pdf

Council is not proceeding with street cars impulsively. Studies have been done, and the case studies of other cities also show the benefits.

 
at 4:00 PM, March 12, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

HEY MR. ALL-CAPS:
THE SCHOOLS ARE FALLING DOWN BECAUSE EVERYONE LEFT THE URBAN CORE BECAUSE THE GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIZED GASOLINE AND HUGE HIGHWAY INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS FOR THE LAST THREE DECADES. THIS CORRODED PROPERTY VALUES AND LEFT SCHOOLS WITHOUT A DIVERSE (RACIALLY AND FINANCIALLY) STUDENT BODY. GASOLINE IN IS $3.50 BECAUSE ITS A FINITE COMMODITY (THAT MEANS SUPPLY IS LIMITED) AND DEMAND, BOLSTERED BY YEARS OF GOVERNMENT SUBSIDY IN THE US, ALONG WITH EMERGING GLOBAL MARKETS IS GROWING. PUBLIC TRASIT PROJECTS ARE A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION. INCREASING CINCY POPULATION AND TAX BASE IS A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION.

I WILL RIDE IT - THANK YOU.

 
at 4:00 PM, March 12, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

taxed to death is overly concerned that "only the wealthy will be able to use MY property," referring to The Banks. Gawd. HER PROPERTY has been a parking lot on prime real estate for THIRTY EIGHT YEARS! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE? Just another in a long line of "can't-do" types that find reasons to squash any move forward in this city. For the record, The Banks is supposed to multi-use - office, retail, entertainment. Presumably we all gain if we can develop this dead zone into an income-producing piece of property.

 
at 4:02 PM, March 12, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the person who keeps posting about city pools - a city pool will not get you to work in the morning, particularly in early March. I think a streetcar would be much better suited for that purpose.

 
at 4:23 PM, March 12, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

1:52
You are about 90% correct. The criminal element was transplanted to Price Hill and Westwood. Somehow 10% were missed and they are preying on defenseless college kids around UC.
My son was robbed for $12 by two armed thugs.
This city is not safe; if you think you can go everywhere, you are delusional.

 
at 5:11 PM, March 12, 2008 Blogger usefullidiot said...

Four Months ago, I sat in a bar in Little Rock watching empty street cars go by.

 
at 5:11 PM, March 12, 2008 Blogger Jared said...

you can always tell the negative, pessimistic ignorant people because they all they do is complain with their caps lock on and use a lot of exclamation points like they are somehow more intelligent than everyone else.

anyways, as a clifton resident who works downtown, this is a great idea. Currently I drive down vine street every day (and as a white guy, i even have my windows down on nice days, believe it or not), and it is exciting to see the transformation that is happening daily to OTR. it is obvious that it is a neighborhood that can have an entirely different feel and experience from downtown and at the same time benefit greatly from downtown's resurgence. I have frequently stopped in some of the new stores right around 12th and vine and found that they are very nice and unique stores with a lot to offer.

all i'm saying is that maybe people should not criticize without experiencing what is actually going on. It is good and right to be critical and questioning of those that you have elected into office, but give them a chance to make a difference. It's clear that this city is not going to improve without initiative. it was not improved with static leadership or development, and they are now changing that attitude for the better

 
at 5:23 PM, March 12, 2008 Blogger Quim said...

I still haven't heard a cogent argument about why the streetcar is better than the bus.
The ease of entry and exit for people carrying stuff, pushing baby carriages and for the handicapped.
The handicapped are frequently pulling down less income than the able bodied and the OTR area will still be a home to many lower income people. Gentrification will not be 110%
More reliable? How--it will still have to contend with the traffic? In my experience Metro buses are pretty reliable.
A shorter route will contend with fewer variables that could lead to it's being put off schedule. you an set your watch by metro in the AM but, as the day progresses, it gets further and further off schedule.
Bigger spur for development? The buses are more flexible in terms of routing. That's part of what the fight is about--lay the track and that's it, no chance to change the route.
Why should a guy invest in a building that is on the route today but may not be tomorrow ?
The last version of the route tends to connect the points that have been reliable points of interest over a long period of time.
It seems to me that the big draw is the cool factor--how cool to have a streetcar system.
Agreed. There is a value to the thing but desire for it must be tempered with practicality.

 
at 5:35 PM, March 12, 2008 Blogger John Schneider said...

>> "In fact at the finance committee meeting, a proponent said there was one study which said it brought $.20 to the dollar cost. I didn't see you there so you'll have to take my word for it. One year ago where was this topic?"

THAT WAS ME, BUT I DIDN'T SAY ANYTHING LIKE THAT. HERE IS EXACTLY WHAT I SAID. READ CAREFULLY. SORRY YOU MISUNDERSTOOD:

"I would like to talk about the economic worthiness of Cincinnati’s streetcar investment, something that’s seldom been discussed in this forum.

Some say it’s unreasonable to equate the tremendous results Portland has achieved with its streetcar project with what we could expect here.

And they’re absolutely right. We should discount Portland’s experience relative to our hopes for the Cincinnati Streetcar. But how much should we discount them? Twenty-five per cent? … fifty per cent?

How about eighty per cent?

That’s what your consultants assume. They estimate the annualized economic development solely attributable to the Cincinnati Streetcar will only amount to about twenty per cent of what Portland has experienced.

But it’s not like it’s a poor rate of return -- far from it! The ratio of the benefits of the Cincinnati Streetcar in relation to its costs – with everything reduced to Present Value – is 2.7 to 1.

This is an astonishing rate of return for any kind of infrastructure project, public or private.

Allow me to place a 2.7 to 1 Benefit/Cost Ratio in context. I reviewed a similar study undertaken by OKI in 2003 to justify the widening of I-75 through Hamilton County, a project being designed right now.

That economic analysis was performed by the same team of transportation economists, though the firm has since been acquired and changed its name.

The estimated ratio of Benefits to Costs achieved from the widening of I-75 was an acceptable rate-of-return for a public project – 1.13 to 1, but it was less than half the return estimated for Cincinnati’s streetcar project, which, again, was estimated at 2.7 to 1. Think about that for a minute.

Here’s another way to look this: if the Cincinnati Streetcar is only half as successful as projected, it would still be a more worthy investment than adding another lane to I-75. The reason is that the streetcar’s benefits are sustainable, while the highway’s added capacity erodes over time.

This is the problem when we consider transportation choices. Projects anchored in the conventional wisdom – such as the need to widen an interstate highway – are seldom questioned, while projects that break new ground and serve new markets like the Cincinnati Streetcar are held to a much higher standard.

Another observation …

Critics say that Portland’s Streetcar is successful only because of that city’s Urban Growth Boundary, a sprawl-limiting measure that enables Portland to achieve the density necessary for its many great urban projects, a density of 3,939 persons per square mile. But here’s the thing -- even without an urban growth boundary, Cincinnati is 8% denser than Portland, with 4,249 persons per square mile.

A growing number of Cincinnatians want to live in walkable communities and liberate their time and money from the highway monoculture. The streetcar is a strategy to repopulate and re-energize our close-in neighborhoods. I hope that you’ll grant authority to our city administration to confirm how a modern streetcar system can work for Cincinnati."

 
at 9:21 PM, March 12, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

If this thing gets built it will become a literal "moving drop in center" for all the huddled masses yearning to drink free.

 
at 10:28 PM, March 12, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

John----- Many people skip long blogs; be terse. You may have great opinions, but I won't know.

 
at 11:11 PM, March 12, 2008 Blogger sankofa said...

Cincinnatians are sick people!!! No matter what the news story, you people ALWAYS find a way to use it to complain about the Freedom Center. You folks really are pathetic. The funny thing is that if it were a Jewish Holocaust museum, everyone would find the compassion to subsidize it.

 
at 12:11 AM, March 13, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

anyways, as a clifton resident who works downtown, this is a great idea.

a city pool will not get you to work in the morning, particularly in early March.

And the residents of [not Clifton] who work in [not downtown] are helped not at all. And in reality, there are far more people in this city who do not live in Clifton or OTR and work downtown than do.

I don't object to public projects. But when money is so tight it seems senseless to spend $102 million to benefit such a small number of people.

Everyone is bleating Portland, Portland, Portland. Has anyone looked at the "fabulous" benefits of the streetcar in Cleveland. What, you don't know there's a streetcar in Cleveland? QED, my friends.

 
at 12:34 AM, March 13, 2008 Blogger Jason said...

Ride a Bike!

 
at 7:42 AM, March 13, 2008 Blogger Jason said...

I'm very happy to see so many people being optimistic about this project. The only way we are going to be able to get this project to actually happen is with overwhelming support from as many Cincinnati citizens as possible.
The poster above "corey" is exactly right in his comments. OTR and downtown will grow exponentially with a streetcar line put in. So many people are already moving in to OTR, with a streetcar in place the number of people attracted to the area will skyrocket. My wife and I are moving there in about 6 weeks, we can't wait! The neighborhood is such a unique place. It truly rivals places like SoHo or Greenwich Village in NYC in terms of density of historic architecture. I was just there last week and I can personally attest to this fact.
This neighborhood will attract young people from all over the country who are looking for a place to live and work after college or during grad school. The parents of children attending the new SCPA will want to live there as well as many more art students.
People need to look at this optimistically. As pointed out above by John Schneider said above, even a very conservative estimate shows a 2.7:1 return on the dollar invested! Thats wonderful as it is and it is likely going to be more than that once its in for a few years. Property values in OTR and downtown will instantly shoot up as well as property values throughout Cincinnati as time goes on. Everybody wins here, not just the downtown residents.
There are already investors waiting for approval of the project in order to start spending money in OTR. The old Christian Morlein Brewery project is a perfect example of that. http://www.soapboxmedia.com/devnews/cincybeerco0212.aspx The owner currently has investors ready to spend money just waiting for the streetcar project to get started. Look at how successful the Haufbrau house has been in Newport. Just that one project alone would bring hundreds of people a night to that part of OTR
Its time this city does something smart for its future. We missed the boat on the subway in the late 1920s, but that doesn't mean we can't make up for it now. The first loop needs to get started asap and the link uptown will shortly follow. Its time to stop talking about it and actually do it!!!

 
at 11:56 AM, March 13, 2008 Blogger The Nati Life said...

I'm sure these doubters are the same people that said the Fountain Square renovation was a terrible idea, and that "$43 million to move a fountain" was stupid. There was more to it than moving the fountain, and it has since revitalized the entire area. I was at Via Vite last night and people were still eating at 11:00... on a Wednesday night!

People are just happy this debate is heating up so they have something to bash and don't get called out on how Fountain Square enjoys remarkable success. It's time for the city to pony up and keep the momentum going!

 
at 1:36 PM, March 13, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check out who owns property along the proposed line; this is the classic "pump and dump" all over again.

 
at 2:07 PM, March 13, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems many of the naysayers' arguments against the streetcar center on the fact that they live in other neighborhoods and this won't benefit them. What you fail to realize is that anything that benefits Downtown Cincinnati benefits you. When people judge Cincinnati they don't do it based on Mt. Washington or Price Hill, they do it based on Downtown. Therefore, if Downtown is nicer people will have a better impression of the city, the city will become more attractive to new businesses/residents, and your property in Mt. Washington or Price Hill will also become more valuable with the inlfux of new residents. It's plain and simple, investment in Downtown Cincinnati benefits the whole city, county, and region.
Also, whoever said Cleveland has streetcars is flat wrong. Cleveland has rail transit, but it is more like light rail and not like the system being proposed for Cincinnati. I have been to Cleveland many times and there is nothing like a streetcar system in Downtown Cleveland. I had to take a cab from my hotel to the House of Blues, I wish I could've used a streetcar to get there.

 
at 3:04 PM, March 13, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Comparing Cleveland's Rail (or buffalo's subway) line to streetcars because they both run on tracks is like comparing I-75 to vine street because they both are made of concrete and carry cars

 
at 4:29 PM, March 13, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't sell my house in Price Hill, so I'm stuck.
What's the streetcar do for folks like us.

 
at 5:23 PM, March 13, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

It really doesn't matter to me if we have a streetcar system or not or what areas it services for that matter. I am concerned that it will require subsidies-permanetly-in order to operate. I seem to remember that was the reason the light rail system from the 'burbs was defeated not too many years ago by popular vote.If it can pay its own way than I say go for it. If it can't....we'll either find a way, or drop it.
I'm sensing the overreaching exuberence reaching the same level on this issue we experienced for the football stadium and we all know what a good deal that turned out to be for the taxpayers. Rational thought is being warped by numbers that don't make sense when you look at the bottom line.

 
at 6:29 PM, March 13, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is important to remember that this project costs 1/30th of what the Brent Spence Bridge will cost

 
at 6:51 PM, March 13, 2008 Blogger Kevin LeMaster said...

"I am concerned that it will require subsidies-permanetly-in order to operate."

Anon 5:23 3/13, are you concerned that I-75 requires subsidies permanently to operate?

 
at 9:12 PM, March 13, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Light rail loop to the entertainment district, streetcar loop to the entertainment district. Same thing.

From The Daily Bellwether,
http://thebellwetherdaily.blogspot.com/2008/02/cincinnati-street-car-boosters-have.html

Cincinnati Street Car Boosters: Have They Studied Cleveland's $70 Million Waterfront Line?

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- The 2.2-mile Waterfront Line is a light-rail loop built with state funds in 1996 that connects Cleveland's downtown to the Flats and Lake Erie waterfront. By 2002, ridership was so sparse that trips were cut. Cleveland's RTA director called it "a transportation manager's nightmare." Now, streetcar boosters in Cincinnati are pushing a $102 million plan for a loop from the Ohio River to Over-the-Rhine. They say: Look at Portland, Oregon. Nothing seems to be mentioned about Cleveland's experience. Some supporters in Cincinanti appear to be angry that anyone would even dare question the wisdom of putting streetcars back on the tracks.

 
at 9:27 AM, March 14, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

I-75 is operated not with subsidies as you would describe them, but with Highway Trust Fund taxes and federal excise taxes that are paid with every gallon of gas and diesel people pump into thier cars. Call it a user fee if you will. In fact the Highway Trust Fund tax was raised from $.04 to $.09 in 1983 to fund transit projects. So essentially the drivers of these carbon burners will be paying for the street cars you deisre. The Highway Trust Fund is part of the overall federal exise tax of $.183 per gallon for gasoline and $.24.3 per gallon for diesel.
Back to my original premise. If you want a street car system, be prepared to pay for it everytime you ride it. That's what I'm doing when I'm driving my car and filling it with heavily taxed fuel to pay for the roads I'm driving on. I think it goes without saying the irony and injustice of Highway Trust Fund money being used to fund mass transit which will contribute nothing to it and only diminish it.

Anon 5:23

 
at 11:33 AM, March 14, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you say boondoggle? Another Freedom Center is coming at the Cincinnati taxpayers.
Don't get hit by the empty streetcar.
Just ask Cleveland who, also, has a crime issue.

 
at 11:54 AM, March 14, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

gas and roads are subsidized. Dont try and spin that fact. In fact, the government can't keep up with the cost of maintenance for streets, bridges, and a like. Not to mention that suburban sprawl increases the cost of services like water and gas (think of how much extra mainline piping and pumping capacity) is need to reach every person with a 1 acre lot). Stop being irrational.

 
at 1:04 PM, March 14, 2008 Blogger usefullidiot said...

Anon 11;54

Have you ever had MSD and waterworks knock on your door and tell you the $$$$$ that you WILL be assesed on 175' of R/W frontage?

RECTILE-CRANIAL INVERSION!!

 
at 2:03 PM, March 14, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes roads are subsidized...by the tax that is paid when a gallon of fuel is purchased and earmarked for use on highways and roads. The people who are using the roads are paying the tax to build and keep them. Once upon a time the tax was used only for roads now some of it is used for mass transit whose users contribute nothing when they pay for their fare when they get on the bus,subway, or whatever they are using.
I'm not opposed to the railway system in principle. If you want it, then it better be self supporting and paying its way as it goes. If it can't, we don't need it. I don't know how I can make it any simplier.
You know there is are reasons the streetcar mode of transportation came and went once before. More cost effective alternatives emerged and that's what we have now with buses that can go almost anywhere.

 
at 3:01 PM, March 14, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

We don't learn from our mistakes.
Don't I see subway entrances from years past that the taxpayers paid for that were never used? Duh!

 
at 3:15 PM, March 14, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cleveland doesn't have streetcars.

 
at 5:15 PM, March 14, 2008 Anonymous Kent Evans said...

John Schneider,
You're not too long in your explanation. So I understand you were quantifying that too much discounting was going on. Too much pragmatism. I still believe you're wrong on this. I hope we can agree though when studies even show a low ROR, like the football venue, public leaders need to stand up and show a bit more resolve to save us from ourselves. I therefore value Cranley's viewpoint. He's far the smartest on council and the most representative on this topic IMO.

Use the money where two benefits can occur, not just revenue for the business owners in a small stretch. Get housing firmed up. Seeding housing in blighted areas can cause a much greater effect than this as many then will see that substandard housing in Cincinnati doesn't need to be the norm. Getting people into housing will bring the business end of it along. Two benefits!

 
at 11:59 PM, March 14, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

ken evans:

buzzword buzzword buzzword

buzzword cranley is great buzzword buzzword buzzword

 
at 12:35 PM, March 15, 2008 Blogger Kevin LeMaster said...

I never drive on New Haven Road. Should I be upset that my gas taxes help pay for that?

Tax, subsidy, tax, subsidy. Same thing. The fact remains that just keeping up with basic maintenance of roads is a neverending subsidy. We could use road surfaces that require far fewer periods of construction, but we don't. Yet no one ever complains about that money being thrown away.

And the amount of gasoline tax that's dedicated to other transit projects is a pittance, not even worth mentioning.

 
at 1:50 PM, March 17, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think before you start speaking from Mt. Olympus maybe you should understand what taxes are, subsidies, and users fees.
As far as "no one complaining when money is being thrown away" I think that those of us who feel that the streetcars could evolve into one of those things that cost too much are speaking out now. If the streetcars system can pay for itself than I say go ahead. If it can't than let's just view it as a nice idea that couldn't be self supporting.

 
at 2:45 PM, March 17, 2008 Anonymous Kent Evans said...

I think the 11:59 commentor turned into a pumpkin. Buzzword? This is as unsexy as you can get. The buzzword going around comes from the pro-crowds if anything. Terms like "economic development", and "city core health" abound. Even the word, "uptown" is something of which I've only recently heard. And before someone thinks that term is a virtuous one, I say it's beneficial not to know it because it is relied on without merit. Cozy monikers don't automatically mean there is merit in throwing $100M at it.

Quantify, not qualify.

 
at 4:41 PM, March 17, 2008 Blogger Kevin LeMaster said...

^^ And I think that before you start speaking from Mt. Olympus, you may not want to make assumptions about what I know.

 
at 7:49 AM, March 18, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was living in Northside when they tore the last of the old streetcar tracks out of the center of Hamilton Avenue. That was hugely expensive and very disruptive. They took them out because streetcars were a stupid idea. They still are. If they were economically feasable, we would still have the orignial, extensive system that the WWII vets enjoyed. They still have one of those at the Museum Center, if you want to see the fate of a new streetcar system. Those who fail to remember history are doomed to repeat it.

 
at 6:45 PM, March 18, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

saying the streetcars built in the 1920s are evidence of a failed technology is like saying I have ridden on a Model T and think cars don't have a future.

 
at 9:14 PM, March 18, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would be if the capabilities of the car didn't change from the Model T on. The root problem with streetcars is that their routes are inflexible, not their ameneties or lack thereof. Installing streetcar tracks is difficult and expensive, and the streetcar still has the same traffic constraints its earlier counterparts experienced, plus the dangers to the cars sharing the roads caused by tire damage from the streecar tracks and lack of traction when a car tire crosses a streetcar track. There is nothing a streetcar can do that cannot be done better and cheaper, and much more flexibly, by a bus or "trackless trolley". If you really want streetcar ambiance, use the type of bus common in recreation areas like Gatlinburg that are styled to look like streetcars, have scheduled stops like streetcars, but requre no expensive infrastructure changes and fixed routes, unlike streetcars.

 
at 1:09 PM, April 04, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it all boils down to this: We do NOT have ENOUGH of a need for a streetcar system to justify spending millions on one.

To be blunt about it, a couple handfuls of young white professionals living downtown, isn't reason enough to embark on such a costly venture. You are the minority down there, not the majority.

This is a huge chunk of money we're talking about here to create the system - money that could be spent more wisely, such as creating incentives for business owners to open up shop downtown.

By the way, I am personally sick to hell and back of hearing about Portland. We are not them, get over it.

 
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