Feds pass amendment to prohibit further funding of streetcar project

Steve Chabot
Steve Chabot

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Federal officials have passed an amendment from Rep. Steve Chabot that would prohibit any federal transportation dollars from being used for the Cincinnati streetcar project.

The amendment was offered Wednesday night during debate on the House Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2013, and was passed by a voice vote.

The amendment (CLICK TO READ) would stop in its tracks the federal grant money sought by the city of Cincinnati for the streetcar project.  The primary funding for this project came in the form of an Urban Circulator Grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation for $25 million. Some city officials have been asking for more federal assistance.

Chabot said federal funding should go to other projects, such as the Brent Spence Bridge and the I-71 MLK interchange.

"My amendment is about priorities," Rep. Chabot said.  "The total cost of the streetcar is expected to be will over $120  million for a four mile loop connecting only two Cincinnati neighborhoods with little to no positive impact on traffic congestion, freight, or our aging infrastructure.  This project is far from a necessity while projects of high priority like the Brent Spence Bridge and I-71 MLK interchange are left on hold."

But Chabot's efforts to knock the streetcar off its tracks still has hurdles. It still has to pass the Senate, and if that happens, it will go to the President, who can veto it. If the President doesn't veto it, the city will not get any more additional federal funding and must decide whether or not to move the project forward. If it is vetoed, then the streetcar stays on track.

Mayor Mark Mallory's office expects the bill to be vetoed, saying Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has already been to Cincinnati twice and money's already been spent to get the streetcar here. They expect President Obama to veto the bill, but if a new president takes office in January, it could be a different story.

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