Groundbreaking for streetcar project scheduled for next week - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Groundbreaking for streetcar project scheduled for next week

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CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

Work is set to begin on the long-awaited Cincinnati streetcar project.

An official announcement came from Mayor Mark Mallory at a special city council meeting held on Friday.

The groundbreaking will be held Friday, Feb. 17 outside Memorial Hall at 1 p.m.

Council members Christopher Smitherman and Charlie Winburn asked tough questions of City Manager Milton Dohoney to task about the cost of the project, costs which could increase because of the costs of moving utility lines. 

"I think Duke has exposed that $19 million is now part of this project," said Smitherman. 

Dohoney was asked how the impasse with Duke Energy over moving its utility lines could affect the project's future, but the city manager stood his ground.

"This will get resolved. I just can't tell you how, 24 hours into an impasse."

Mayor Mark Mallory says he plans to get into the talks.

"I am sending a letter to the head of Duke here locally urging a return to the table and I shouldn't use the term return to the table because it will be my first try at negotiating this particular issue," he said.  

There are a number of taxpayers, like Sharon Koehler who are concerned about the final cost of the project. "You've always got cost overruns and unforecasted and unforeseen costs in projects such as this," she said. "I just don't believe that we have enough cushion in the funding to be able to provide and address those concerns."

Councilman Winburn says the project should be canceled. "I believe it's over, it's time to pull the plug. If the mayor and council continue to go on with this, down the road the citizens of Cincinnati will be paying a special tax to bail out the street car."

The ground breaking ceremony will launch the first phase of construction, the relocation of water lines in city streets.

The project is estimated to cost $110 million.

Mayor Mark Mallory met with members of the Obama Administration this week to share streetcar development strategies in Washington DC.

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