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The Cincinnati Streetcar: Triumphing Over an Anti-Transit Governor

10:27 AM EST on December 14, 2011

Cincinnati -- you really just can't give this town enough credit. The Queen City and its streetcar coalition can't be stopped, despite the best efforts of Ohio Governor John Kasich to stamp out all traces of a passenger train in the Buckeye State.

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Network blog Urban Cincy announced yesterday that the city has received word (ahead of the announcement by US DOT tomorrow) that the Cincinnati Streetcar project has been awarded some $11 million in TIGER III funds.

The city had sought to replace more than $50 million that was yanked by Kasich in April. Meanwhile, ODOT Director Jerry Wray had recommended TIGER funds for -- get this -- the expansion of a rural road in central Ohio. (We'll be waiting with bated breath for the results of that one.)

Boy, it really is fun to see Cincinnati moving ahead on transportation despite a stodgy governor's attempts to keep the state in a holding pattern from 1985.

Urban Cincy's Jenny Kessler has this report:

Council-member, OTR resident and ardent supporter Chris Seelbach told UrbanCincy, “If the news is correct, as the Business Courier is reporting, then it’s great news! The goal was always to connect Cincinnati’s two biggest job centers, downtown and uptown. Only when Governor Kasich cut the State’s funding was the route shortened. I’m hopeful this new funding source will again allow us to have fixed rail from the stadiums to the University of Cincinnati and hospitals, and everywhere in between.”

The city applied for $58 million in funding through the program, to restore the project to its original aim of connecting the Uptown and Downtown employment centers. The $10.9 million will potentially be able to expand the adjusted route down to the Banks.

Despite major pushback at the state level, local support has never been stronger with the new election of 7 pro-streetcar council-members.

When this project is complete, it's bound to inspire envy in Columbus and Cleveland. Maybe by that time, Ohio will have a governor and ODOT director that aren't totally in the pocket of the sprawl/fossil fuel lobby. Hey, a girl can dream, right?

Elsewhere on the Network today: Seattle Transit Blog reports that Washington state is considering amending its constitution to allow for tax increment financing, a financial tool that allows communities to capture land value increases that result from infrastructure projects. Commuter Page Blog explains how cities around the country are using artwork to help raise awareness concerning pedestrian and cycling safety. And Stop and Move wonders why road diets, with their proven ability to improve safety, should be reserved for low-traffic streets.

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