City applies for federal funding for streetcar

Published: Nov. 15, 2011 at 6:47 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 16, 2011 at 1:13 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The City of Cincinnati has again applied for federal funding for the streetcar project.

The Department of Transportation is awarding nearly $527 million in Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) III funding to local governments.

Cincinnati has applied for $56.8 million toward phase one of the streetcar project. That would  make up for the nearly $52 million that was pulled in state funding earlier this year.

Chris Eilerman, the city's Streetcar Project Manager, tells FOX19 that the TIGER grant is very competitive, but that they think they have submitted a strong application, and that this type of grant has funded other cities' streetcar projects before.  Eilerman also says the fact that aspects of the project here are ready to go may also work in the city's favor.

Jean-Francois Flechet recently opened a restaurant called Taste of Belgium at the corner of 12th and Vine St.  He believes the streetcar is a sound economic investment in the Over-the-Rhine area as a whole.

"The main reason why I picked this location is because of the proximity of the track of the streetcar.  I think that more and more people will follow and invest and rehab the buildings in Over-the-Rhine," said Felchet.

But those who have opposed the streetcar from the beginning say no matter how much funding comes in now, the city will still be on the hook to carry this project indefinitely, and that the city's current economic status just doesn't support that idea.

"They need to pay attention to the problems right now and not try to just give us bread and circuses with some crazy little gimmick that really isn't going to result in any economic growth except for those few people that have strategically bought up the property right along the line and are going to reap a tremendous amount of money," said Tom Brinkman with COAST.

Cincinnatians recently voted to allow work to continue on the controversial project. Had Issue 48 passed, it would have banned any rail project in the city for the next 10 years. The majority of the new city council also supports the streetcar.

The total amount of the entire streetcar project is estimated at $95 million.

TIGER III grant winners will be announced by the end of the year.

Copyright 2011 FOX19. All Rights Reserved.