Streetcar supporters disappointed in funding rejection
COLUMBUS, OH (FOX19) - Tuesday Cincinnati city leaders and citizen streetcar supporters headed to Columbus to ask a state transportation board to sign off on funding the 128 million dollar project.
"Chairman, members of the board, I respectfully ask that you approve the recommendation made in December," Mayor Mark Mallory requested while addressing the TRAC board Tuesday.
From official appeals to passionate pleas, supporters of the Cincinnati streetcar made it clear where they stood on the project.
"Please let us do it. We want to keep young people from moving out," Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan said. "And to governor Kasich and all the grumpy old men like him who say 'I'll never ride that street car' we say 'good!' Because we're not building it for you. We're building it for our kids and our grandkids."
At the end of the day, however, their requests were only able to garner one vote of streetcar support.
"Everyone said 'It's probably not going to do any good, the governor's already got everyone under his thumb'," Quinlivan shared. "I really had hoped that with some passionate talk and [once they] saw all the supporters we had hoped they might change their mind."
"We now have a day where a lot of people have driven to Columbus to be a part of a TRAC process that is no longer fair, no longer equitable, and no longer partial. It's a political process now," Mayor Mark Mallory said following the vote.
When asked whether Kasich killed the funding, Mayor Mallory all but said yes.
"The only thing that changed between December when the TRAC board made the recommendation to give us 36.8 million dollars and today is the person that sits in the governor's seat and the person who chairs ODOT," Mallory said.
Fellow city leaders also shared their frustration.
"It hurts a lot because for me this is one of the main reasons I ran for council. I'm tired of waiting for progress to happen, I just want to see it happen," Quinlivan said.
"It's a setback," Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls admitted. "But we're going to keep our eyes on the prize and build a multimodal transportation system in Cincinnati no matter how long it takes because it's necessary for jobs, for growth, for investment."
Quinlivan says the next order of business with be fighting the state's legislation that blocks funding of the streetcar project and looking for new potential funding sources.
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