June 21st, 2013 By German Lopez | News | Posted In: News, Budget, Streetcar

Feds Commit Another $5 Million to Streetcar Project

City Council expected to vote on budget updates Monday


Cincinnati's streetcar project is getting another $5 million in federal funding. But before the money is handed over, the city must first eliminate cost overruns that have recently put the project in danger.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood unveiled the news in a letter to Mayor Mark Mallory dated June 19. The letter acknowledges the project's recent cost overruns, but goes on to claim the federal government still backs the project.

"The DOT (Department of Transportation) continues to support your bold vision for economic development and enhanced transportation choices for the city of Cincinnati, and we believe that this project is a significant component of that vision. With that in mind, I want to provide up to $5 million in additional assistance from DOT," LaHood wrote.

But the money comes with two conditions: The city must first fix the streetcar project's cost overruns and restore certain aspects of the project, including a passenger information system and a screen or wall that would block power substations from public view.

The $5 million will be on top of the nearly $40 million the federal government has already contributed to the project through various grants and programs.

The funding bump comes just in time for City Council's Monday vote on the streetcar project's cost overruns.

In February, the city received construction bids that were $26 million to $43 million over budget, effectively leading to a $17.4 million budget gap and a $133 million overall cost for the project.

Since then, City Manager Milton Dohoney proposed a few fixes to City Council, including pulling funding from various capital projects and issuing more debt.

At the same time, Dohoney told City Council the city administration was working with federal officials to find opportunities for more federal funding.

The new commitment is presumably the result of those discussions.

City Council is expected to vote on the budget fixes Monday. So far, council members Roxanne Qualls, Yvette Simpson, Wendell Young and Laure Quinlivan have vowed support, but Council will need a fifth vote — perhaps from Chris Seelbach or Pam Thomas — to pass the changes.

Read the full letter below:

   Streetcar Letter to Mayor Mallory

Update (3:55 p.m.): This story was updated with additional context.

06.21.2013 at 08:19 Reply

Pretty sad that many of our news agencies- including the Enquirer, have failed to report this story.

You better believe if the feds took back 5 million in streetcar money all these news companies would be fighting to be the first to break the story.

Sometimes living in the conservative midwest really annoys me. 


06.22.2013 at 09:05 Reply

Yes, this additional funding should have been regarded and yes, the project should get a review fo cost while the work continues.  Every time I hear COAST bleat like a sheep caught in barbed wire, the more I know that a project is good and forward looking for Cincinnati.


06.22.2013 at 11:08 Reply

Thanks for the concise and thorough article on a project of great importance to many of us urban dwellers who have been putting our time and money into the betterment of the urban core, and the center of our cityand region. Our city's streetcar project must be put back on track and move ahead swiftly. Stalling, stumbling and uncertainty has cost us time and money. The new federal funds for restoring the screening wall per State of Ohio historical requirements, and the information system are very good news and show that the whole country is cheering us on! City Council members must all keep their eyes on the prize, must not choke, and step out boldly this week to vote for the funding that will close the gap and move our beloved Cincinnati forward! Thank you!