CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - More than 70 supporters gathered on Elm Street outside Music Hall on Tuesday to see the first rail placed in the ground for the construction of the Cincinnati Streetcar.
For project supporters, it was a symbol of hard-fought success years in the making. However, opponents of the project thought differently.
"I thought it was nothing but political theater," explained mayoral candidate John Cranley. "They're trying to really snub their noses at the tax payer right before a big election where we're going to stop throwing good money after a bad project that we can't afford."
"This is the schedule that we've been keeping," said mayoral candidate Roxanne Qualls. "Projects like this, major projects, they don't stop just because someone made the announcement that they're running for elected office."
Despite two failed referendums, the streetcar is back front-and-center this election season. Both mayoral candidates are clearly divided on the project's future.
"We will stop this project. We will bring some sanity back to the financial house of the city and we will put the focus back on neighborhoods and basic services and public safety," says Cranley.
"I believe that it is really an issue that is about vision and about the future of the city and continuing to invest in projects that bring population back," said Qualls. "Bring residents back and bring jobs and bring businesses back to the city."
The candidates even disagree on what putting the brakes on the streetcar would mean now that the streetcar project is on track.
"The project is going forward," said Qualls. "If John Cranley wants to stop this project, it's going to cost a lot of money."
"The additional money is the cost they want to spend going to Clifton," argued Cranley. "The additional cost is $4 million a year in operating deficit that comes directly at the expense of cops and firefighters."
Qualls pointed out that halting the project would lead to years of court battles with contractors and suppliers.
"As most people know once you've signed a contract, you've signed a contract. You can't just all of a sudden say - No, we don't want to do it," said Qualls.
"I believe if I'm elected at least five members will share my views, and we will renegotiate the contract they signed to pave roads and to fix city buildings," Cranley stated.