Officials break ground on streetcar project - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX

Officials break ground on streetcar project

Officials hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the streetcar project Officials hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the streetcar project
Officials hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the streetcar project Officials hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the streetcar project

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff joined Mayor Mark Mallory and other local officials Friday afternoon to kick off construction of the new 3.9-mile streetcar line that will connect Downtown and Over-the-Rhine. 

"President Obama called on us to rebuild America by putting people back to work on transportation projects that are built to last, like Cincinnati's modern streetcar line," said Secretary LaHood. "All across America, there is work like this to be done that will improve our transit systems, highways, railways, airports and ports for years to come. At this make-or-break moment for the middle class, we can afford to do no less."

"This feels like a big day," City Manager Milton Dohoney said.

Dohoney says the project has not come without its fair share of ups and downs.

"There have been some days where we were elated, some days where we were deflated, but through it all there have been zero days where we have given up," he said.

"We want a positive vision for the city and this is a big victory," Cincinnatians for Progress spokesperson Rob Richardson said.

"It's so exciting that we get to be part of the future of our city," said Councilmember Quinlivan.

Not everyone in the community was celebrating Friday, however.

"Today I could not bear to even think about what was going on because I think it was one of the most irrational projects that we are going to have in this city at this time," argued Westwood resident Helen Russo.

"There are some people out there who think ‘If I just complain long enough I can't stop this project' but I hope this is a very physical symbol to folks that we're going forward," Quinlivan emphasized. "This is going to happen."

Russo says the streetcar project has been a thorn in her side since day one.

"It's not that I'm trying t be pessimistic" she said. "I think I'm a realist to tell you the truth. I have to balance my budget and nobody else seems to care or worry about their budget."

While Russo did not attend the event, some opponents did show up.

"It's certainly a wonderful show this transportation secretary comes in, they turn over a few rocks but the bottom line is they don't have the financing in place," C.O.A.S.T. cofounder Tom Brinkman said. "They don't have an agreement with the utilities."

Like Brinkman, Russo says she cannot understand why city leaders are digging in before Duke Energy is on board.

"Why would you cut a ribbon when you are millions of dollars apart?" she questioned.  "The city's wanting to give six million and Duke Energy with a minimum estimate of 18.7 million "

"We're simply not going to more our infrastructure until we have resolution on these two very important issues: safety of our employees and who pays the cost to relocate that infrastructure ," Duke spokesperson Jason Walls said.

Walls says Duke Energy representatives spoke with Mayor Mallory the day before the event.

"No resolution has been reached but I can tell you that what resulted from that meeting is both sides agreed to continue to work toward that resolution," he said.

"That will not get in the way of this project," said secretary LaHood. "That will get settled. It will get figured out."

"We've broken ground on the streetcar. The utilities have to move," Mayor Mallory added. "They understand that, we know that. We are in good talks right now and I expect to get this issue resolved pretty soon."

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