Transportation Secretary LaHood visiting Cincinnati to announce streetcar funding

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - They asked for $57 million, but it looks like the City of Cincinnati will be getting almost $11 million to advance the streetcar project to include the Banks area on the riverfront.

Ray LaHood, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, will be in Cincinnati Thursday afternoon to give the good news to Mayor Mark Mallory in person.

Mallory would not confirm any dollar amounts Wednesday, prior to the announcement.

"If that's the case then that's very exciting and that would mean that we would actually be able to ensure that the first phase goes all the way to Second street and connects the Banks into the streetcar system," said Vice-mayor Roxanne Qualls.

The current planned route has the streetcar running from Findlay Market to Fountain Square.

"Our intention is to aggressively pursue funding to ensure that the vision which is ultimately to connect the two biggest employment centers in the region uptown with the medical complex and the university and downtown - that the streetcar makes that connection. So this gives us a great start but we're not finished," said Qualls.

Those opposed to the streetcar project have had little success derailing it.  But concerns remain, both about the project's relevance in a tough economy, as well as details about how the plan will be implemented.

Wednesday, Ishton Morton, who opposed the streetcar, addressed council because he says he realizes it is going forward, and wants those affected by the plan to have a say in it.

"Do you have any process or program or intent to involve the opponents of the streetcar going make sure that where the streetcar runs, the indigenous people would be benefiting from that project?" he asked.

He told FOX19 he has not had the question answered to his satisfaction.

Sec. LaHood's announcement is expected at the Mayor's office at 1:15 Thursday.

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