The city on Feb. 1 bypassed another hurdle in the ongoing struggle to make the streetcar a reality when Mayor Mark Mallory and City Manager Milton Dohoney, Jr. announced that after months entangled in a gridlock, Duke Energy and the city have finally reached an agreement over who will pay for the relocation of utility lines.
Somewhat of an agreement, anyway. Mallory said that the city and Duke will go before a judge in Common Pleas Court, which will make the final decision as to who should pay for the utility relocation. According to the agreement, Duke Energy will begin moving its utilities in the next few weeks, and the court decision will determine cost responsibility later.
The city and Duke are expected to file in court within the next few weeks, although the decision could take years to finalize.
The city broke ground on the streetcar nearly a year ago, but the skirmish between Duke and the city delayed further development — Duke refused to begin any kind of construction before financial responsibility was determined.
The reconciliation contains two separate agreements, one of which outlines how Duke will safely operate its utilities once the streetcar is in place. The other demarcates how Duke and the city will resolve the issue of financial responsibility; they’ve both agreed to abide by the court ruling after any appeals are exhausted.
At the meeting, Mallory announced that the city would shoot for construction to be completed prior to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, but there were no guarantees. The streetcar builder will ultimately set the timeline for the project, according to Jason Barron, Mallory’s director of public affairs.