City council has voted 5-4 to suspend work on the project so
an economic feasibility study can be done.
Voting in favor to suspend were
council members David Mann (D), Chris Smitherman (Independent), Amy Murray (R),
Kevin Flynn (I) and Charlie Winburn (R).
Against the idea of suspending were council members Chris
Seelbach, PG Sittenfeld, Wendell Young and Yvette Simpson, all Democrats.
A topic of debate was the release of a confidential memo Tuesday
night saying essentially the city wouldn't win their fight against Duke Energy,
and would have to pay the cost to relocate their utilities. That's been
said to be in the range of $15 million which would move the cost of the project
from $133 million to $148, if it holds true.
After three days of back and forth in council chambers, work is
done for the time being.
"Canceling the streetcar is
not what's best for the city," one supporter said to council.
"A pause does not mean
cancel, and it doesn't mean cancel to me," said council member Chris
That was an argument heard time
and time again in those meetings this week. It's an argument that was put
to an end after a 5-4 vote on Wednesday.
"I think it's a good result
that we're going to stop incurring additional spending related to the streetcar
until we've had the independent analysis to determine the cost of continuation
versus cancellation," said Mayor John Cranley.
Project leaders say it costs
$100,000 a day for streetcar work. Notification efforts are now well
underway to stop that. Project executive John Deatrick says he's in the
process of printing letters for nine entities, all directing them to stop
working. He'll meet with contractors on Thursday.
"I knew this project was
going to be a challenge when I joined up with it. I heard the campaign
rhetoric. It wasn't as though I didn't know what might happen," said
It's a challenge that could be
made harder by the potential loss of $45 million in federal funds. As of
right now, the FTA has frozen federal dollars until a decision is made.
Cranley told FOX19 interim city
manager Scott Stiles is charged with hiring people for an independent
analysis. After that's done, he expects council to come back and make a
final decision on the project.