Cincinnati streetcar project delayed again

Cincinnati streetcar project delayed again

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The Cincinnati Streetcar project's finish line has been pushed back yet again according to city bid documents.

City leaders say riders will now likely be able to start boarding in April of 2016. The 3.6 mile track will run from the riverfront through Over-The-Rhine. The project has a $110 million price tag.

"Originally we were told the project would get done in 2012," mayoral candidate John Cranley said Friday. "Now they're talking about not having it complete until 2016."

The bid due date was extended from January 18th to noon on February 8th.

According to project documents, the "notice to proceed" date is April 8th and the contractor must start work within five days.

"For them to try and lock our hands in advance two or three years after the next mayor takes office is I think really bad form, it's bad government, it's not right," argued Cranley, a former city councilman.

The city finalized a deal with the vehicle manufacturer in December. Project documents outlining the bid process for the streetcar show the city expects to get the first of five streetcar vehicles in July of next year then one a month after that.

"Would you buy a car two years before you plan to use it?" Cranley questioned. "It's a horrible, reckless way to spend taxpayer money."

The bid names March of 2015 as the date the majority of the OTR loop should be complete and October of that year as the final finish date.

Some utilities started moving in 2012 and Cincinnati Bell is slated to start their work early this year.

With the Duke Energy debate over who should pay to move the utilities still underway, Cranley argues the city should not be pushing forward on the project.

"The easy thing to do would be to not spend the money until they have the ability with Duke Energy to complete the project," he said. "Until they have that under control they should not be spending any dollars."

"We wouldn't be where we are at The Banks, at Smale [Riverfront Park], Fountain Square, in downtown, in Over the Rhine if every time there was someone who said 'no' we stopped after making a commitment," argued mayoral candidate Roxanne Qualls.

As for the Duke Energy talks, the city's website states it has set aside $15 million from the sale of the Blue Ash airport to "front" the payment for the relocation. Ultimately the city expects to be reimbursed by Duke Energy.

"We are happy to resolve those issues through a mediator or in court, but it is important to move it forward," Qualls said Friday.

A spokesperson for Duke Energy told FOX19 they are not prepared to move infrastructure until agreements are in place. An operating agreement has yet to be finalized. The company filed "facility relocation riders" associated with mass transportation project in 2012. According to Duke Energy's website the riders would "allow the company to recover from a local government or its residents, the costs of relocating infrastructure because of specific projects".

Qualls argues part of the reason the project has been postponed is due to opponents dragging it out.

"One of the things that has resulted in the delay has been the two ballot initiatives both of which were defeated by the voters and the voters said to go forward," she said.

A city spokesperson says over 80 contractors have showed interest in the streetcar project which currently includes the OTR section, the Cincinnati Central Riverfront portion of the project, and a Maintenance and Operations facility.

The spokesperson says so far $42 million has either been spent on the project or is currently allocated and promised through contracts.

To date the project has received three federal grants.

During construction downtown intersections may be closed over weekends if coordinated well in advance. Pedestrian and bicycle access must be maintained at all times. One lane in each direction must also be maintained.

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