Mayor unveils new streetcar signs along proposed route

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Supporters of Cincinnati's streetcar project press on despite opposition groups that have been able to get the issue on the November ballot.

New signs were unveiled Tuesday along the proposed streetcar line. The signs, which include a map of the entire 3.1 mile route, were placed at 16 potential stops.

The first of which was at 8th and Main Streets, where Mayor Mark Mallory wanted to give Cincinnatians a taste of the future.

However, streetcar opponents have placed an issue on the Cincinnati Fall ballot, asking voters to block the $95-million project.

Streetcar supporters say the first phase of the project will create more than 300 construction jobs and 25 permanent jobs. And that activity will lead to thousands of new residents in the urban core.

On the other side, people against the project argue the three-mile round trip is too short and there are no guarantees that streetcars will be as effective as they are in other cities.

The Mayor says the signs cost $2,000 and that no general fund revenue money was used to pay for them. It came out of the grant money that's being used solely for the streetcar.

Opponents say the Mayor should not be doing anything until the voters speak in November.

They also say the City is spending a lot of money to benefit very few people.

"I don't live in the 'what if' world," said Mallory. "The voters are going to say 'yes', they said 'yes' in 2009, they're going to say yes again."

So, Mayor Mallory and City leaders are pushing ahead with the streetcar.

"We are building a streetcar in the City of Cincinnati," said Mallory. "We're doing that to grow the City's economy, that's what streetcars have done in cities all across America and frankly, all around the world."

Hold on, says Tom Brinkman with the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes or C.O.A.S.T.

Brinkman just got back from Lisbon, Portugal, where they have a streetcar.

"It's a nice amusement park ride and that's exactly how they market it, in all the guidebooks," said Brinkman. "Make sure to go to line 28, 18 and there's only like 5 of them and take it and you'll have a great time because you do a little amusement park around the city and it's neat."

He is not amused by the Mayor's unveiling of signs.

"Well, it's nothing more than grand standing and campaigning in-advance of the ballot initiative," he said.

Brinkman helped draft the amendment for the November ballot.

"We used specifically the term street car, now if somebody wants to run a choo choo train up at the zoo, that's not a streetcar, if somebody wants to do a gondola over to Mount Adams, which is a transportation project, which I think is crazy, but people have floated that idea," said Brinkman. "If people want to do a bullet train, those are not streetcars, a streetcar by definition, runs on the street."

Mayor Mallory said 80 cities across America are pursuing streetcars and he estimates a $3 return for every $1 they invest.

"There are ten cities across the United States that have received money from the Urban Circulator grant," said Mallory. "It's a grant of $25 million and Cincinnati is one of those cities."

City Manager Milton Dohoney pointed to streetcar projects greenlighted in Milwaukee, Atlanta and New Orleans.

"The road to being competitive is not paved with asphalt, it is paved with rail lines," said Dohoney.

Brinkman claims, if the Mayor had to put it up for a vote in front of Council today, that Mayor Mallory would not get five votes. That he is relying on past votes of previous councils.

The Mayor, undaunted, said they still have to go through the process of selecting a streetcar and that they only have a couple of models to choose from.

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