December 19th, 2013 By German Lopez | News | Posted In: Mayor, Streetcar

Cincinnati Streetcar Saved

Council gets six votes to override mayor's veto and continue project

streetcarRendering: CAF USA / City of Cincinnati

After nearly two months of ups and downs, city leaders on Thursday announced Cincinnati will get a streetcar after all.

Speaking prior to a council vote, Mayor John Cranley and Councilman Kevin Flynn announced City Council has the six votes to overcome the mayor's veto and restart construction on the $132.8 million streetcar project.

Flynn was the final holdout in what some council members now call the "streetcar six." He was asking for a commitment from private contributors to cover the annual operating costs for the streetcar, which consulting firm KPMG estimated at $1.88-$2.44 million a year after fares and sponsorships.

The philanthropic Haile Foundation lived up to part of the commitment by signing onto $900,000 a year for 10 years, Flynn announced. That was enough of a commitment to move forward as the city makes a broader effort to get all the operating costs off the city's books, he said.

"That is a huge commitment, folks," Flynn added.

Flynn also acknowledged that the streetcar could foster new revenues in the city's operating budget and actually allow the city to take on bigger responsibilities.

Previous studies from consulting firm HDR and the University of Cincinnati found the streetcar project will generate a 2.7-to-1 return on investment over 35 years.

Flynn, a Charterite, joined Democrats David Mann, Chris Seelbach, Yvette Simpson, P.G.

Sittenfeld and Wendell Young in support of restarting the project. Republicans Amy Murray and Charlie Winburn and Independent Christopher Smitherman voted against it.

Still, Cranley said he will continue opposing the streetcar project. He repeatedly stated council is making the wrong decision.

"I'm disappointed in the outcome," said Cranley, who ran in opposition to the streetcar.

Flynn reiterated his respect for Cranley, despite effectively dealing a major blow to Cranley's agenda.

Cranley "helped me get elected to this position, and I take that trust seriously," Flynn said.

Others were glad the city can now take on different issues without getting mired down in a contentious streetcar debate.

"I am so glad that this issue is done and over with," said Vice Mayor Mann, who voted in favor of the project.

Mann officially changed his stance on the project after KPMG's audit found canceling the project could cost nearly as much as completing it.

The final decision came at a cost to Cincinnati: The two-week pause of the project, which allowed KPMG to conduct its review, added $1.7-$2.8 million in costs, according to KPMG's audit. The city also allocated $250,000 to pay KPMG for its work.

Once it's completed, the streetcar line will run as a 3.6-mile loop in Over-the-Rhine and downtown.

Updated with results of City Council's vote and additional information.

12.19.2013 at 03:29 Reply

Thank You.....Now business as usual...Get to work on something like a cinema on the Banks.... Not having to drive so far to see a decent movie...


12.19.2013 at 09:21

or build a riverfront streetcar loop through newport on the levee & mainstrasse in cvg, via purple people bridge and clay wade bailey via the riverfront transit center and connect with phase 1 there.  


12.20.2013 at 11:13

A cinema on the Banks?  AMC is over at Newport on the Levee just across the river.


12.19.2013 at 03:46 Reply

Thanks German, for your relentless updates and coverage of this issue.


12.25.2013 at 05:11 Reply

Yeah we really need that street car.. 2012 Cincinnati was number 2 in the US for children living in poverty leve.  I'm sure this will help them get food and shelter!