Streetcar shutdown hearing set for Monday

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A little more than 24-hours after John Cranley takes the oath of office on Sunday, his newly-chosen vice-mayor, David Mann, will hold a hearing at noon on Monday about shutting down the streetcar project.

Cranley tells FOX19 the outcome will likely be a 30-day analysis of the cost of derailing the project versus moving forward. So would he reconsider his opposition to the streetcar if the analysis shows shutting it down would be too costly?

"Well, I guess anything's possible," Cranley said. "But I highly doubt it. You know, I was chairman of the Budget Committee for eight years and I'm pretty familiar with the numbers. And the long-term costs of this thing are astronomical."

But supporters of the streetcar argue it's about more than that. They say the streetcar is important to the city's image, to improving downtown, and avoiding the consequences of backing-out of a deal with the federal government, which has pledged money for the streetcar.

Calling the consequences of doing that "severe," Mayor Mark Mallory told FOX19 earlier this month, "We will have to pay back tens of millions of dollars. And we will not have the opportunity to use that money for anything else. And I think we will negatively affect the relationship that the City of Cincinnati has with the federal government."

In the final days of the Mallory Administration, work on the streetcar continued to the tune of about $50,000 a day. Some supporters argue that all the money that's been spent, plus the penalties of backing out of contracts, will mean city leaders had just as well keep the streetcar project on-track.

Mayor-Elect Cranley said Friday night that he couldn't disagree more.

"That's absurd," he said. "They're about $2 million into a $70 million contract. We're going to save a fortune."

Following the hearing at noon, Cranley will then chair his first city council meeting, a special session, at 3 p.m. Monday. The council meeting is necessary to formally approve what comes out of the streetcar hearing, said Cranley. He's not going to limit the number of people who can speak in favor or against the project. But each person will only get two minutes at the microphone.

Cranley also made news on Friday by announcing the chairs of city council committees and the formation of a streetcar committee, headed by Mann.

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