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December 14th, 2011 By Kevin Osborne | News | Posted In: Streetcar, President Obama, Public Transit, Urban Planning, Development

Streetcar Gets Grant for Riverfront

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It will be headed to the riverfront, after all.

U.S. Transportation Ray LaHood will hold a conference call Thursday afternoon with media to announce that Cincinnati's planned streetcar system is getting a $10.92 million grant. The announcement is set for 12:15 p.m.

The money will allow Cincinnati officials to build a loop to downtown's riverfront area during phase one of the project, which is expected to begin construction next year and open in late 2013. Segments to the riverfront and to the uptown area near the University of Cincinnati were initially included in phase one, but were dropped after the state of Ohio cancelled about $52 million in funding due to political pressure from Gov. John Kasich.

The latest funding is part of the federal Transportation Department's TIGER III Discretionary Grants Program. TIGER — or Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery — is designed to invest in road, rail, transit and port projects that promise to achieve “critical national objectives.”

“The TIGER program enables (the Transportation Department) to use a rigorous process to select projects with exceptional benefits, explore ways to deliver projects faster and save on construction costs, and make investments in our nation's infrastructure that make communities more livable and sustainable,” according to a federal website.

Prior to the grant, Cincinnati officials had allocated $99.5 million for the project, which will pay for the first phase. Of that amount, $25 million comes from an urban circulator grant awarded by the Federal Transportation Administration (FTA); $4 million comes from a congestion mitigation and air quality improvement grant by the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments; $6.5 million comes from Duke Energy; and the remaining $64 million will come from construction bonds issued by the city.

Sources with Congressional offices have confirmed the news, which also has been reported by The Enquirer and The Business Courier. The grant's advance notice was published Monday on a federal website.

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