Former Cincinnati mayors join Aftab Pureval to discuss Issue 22, proposed sale of city’s rail line

Published: Sep. 27, 2023 at 7:36 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) -Five former Cincinnati mayors joined Mayor Aftab Pureval Wednesday to address Issue 22, the proposed sale of the city’s rail line.

Issue 22 will ask voters if Northfolk Southern Railway should purchase the rail line for $1.6 billion.

“Our city faces a tremendous backlog of infrastructure maintenance projects, and this sale will provide a massive and continuously growing source of income that, by law, can only be spent on improving existing infrastructure,” Mayor Pureval said.

The city faces a backlog of about $400 million in maintenance to the city’s infrastructure.

Former Mayor John Cranley says the city receives around $25 million annually from Norfolk Southern in lease payments, but if the sale is approved, that number could jump to $80 million.

“That $55 million is either going to be in their pockets or in our streets and bridges that need to be fixed. That’s the choice,” Cranley stated.

Organizers of the grass-roots effort “Derail the Sale” say they are hoping the public will vote “no” on Nov. 7.

“Corporations can kind of be like sharks... and right now they smell blood in the water in Cincinnati,” Organizer of Derail the Sale Jen Mendoza said.

The Derail the Sale members say they are not seeing full transparency from city leaders, and the proposed sale is not an easy way out, instead of the council to look at creative budget solutions.

“If a company is willing to shell out that kind of money for something.. there’s obviously a reason it’s vitally important. So that kind of begs the question why would Cincinnati want to sell something that’s that important,” Organizer of Derial the Sale Dylan Bauer said. “It currently generates revenue, year over year, and has for decades, almost a couple centuries, and if we sell now, we never get that chance back to have revenue, year over year.”

The organizers say if the sale goes through, the city will lose its vital oversight and level of accountability to Norfolk Southern- a corporation still dealing with the fallout from its February train derailment in East Palestine.

“When we vote come November, we’re not only voting for the interests of the citizens of Cincinnati but for every town- small or large- that this rail passes through on the way to its end destination,” Bauer said.

Both sides have been working to connect with voters to vote either “yes” or “no” for Issue 22.

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