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September 17th, 2012 By German Lopez | News | Posted In: News, Streetcar, Republicans

Streetcar Delayed until 2015

City says a number of issues contributed to more than yearlong postponement

streetcar
The $110 million streetcar project's opening is being delayed by more than a full year — from spring 2014 to summer 2015.

Meg Olberding, city spokesperson, attributes the delay to “a number of scheduling issues.”

“There’s so many moving pieces,” she says. “There are issues with utility and we have to order the cars. We have to get a contractor on-board for the work. So we still have a couple of things that are taking longer than we thought.”

The delay, which was announced Sept. 10, is the latest in a history of plan and schedule changes for the Cincinnati streetcar, which saw $52 million pulled by Gov. John Kasich last year and forced the city to abandon its Uptown connector lines. Kasich, who has been against other rail projects in the state, claimed the move was necessary to balance the 2012-2013 budget.

Today, a feud between the city and Duke Energy is causing more trouble.

The city and utility company disagree over who should pay for moving utility lines to accommodate the streetcar. On Aug. 29, the city said it was considering a lawsuit to resolve the issue. Olberding says the conflict played a role in the delay.

“We need to resolve that quickly because, obviously, the longer we can’t get utility work done, it’ll cause delays and cost overruns,” she says. “So we want to get that done as soon as possible.”

Before the current spat, the city and Duke could not agree on whether manhole covers and utility lines should be eight feet from streetcar tracks or three to four feet. The city claimed the smaller number was fine, but Duke disagreed, citing fears for its workers. In a previous look at the issue, CityBeat found the city’s standard was supported by experiences in other cities (“The Great Eight Debate,” issue of March 6). The city eventually won out, and manholes will only be required to be three to four feet from streetcar tracks.

The streetcar has faced consistent opposition from other Republicans besides Kasich. U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot of Cincinnati successfully amended the 2013 transportation bill to ban federal funding from going to the streetcar and other light rail projects. Councilman Charlie Winburn, the lone Republican on Cincinnati City Council, said the city should stop its threat of lawsuit against Duke Energy.

 
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