March 13th, 2013 By German Lopez | News | Posted In: News, Development, Economy, Streetcar, Mayor

Cranley: Redirect Funding From Streetcar to Interchange

Federal grants tied to streetcar, transit projects

john cranleyMayor John Cranley - Photo: Provided

The MLK/I-71 Interchange project is supposed to be funded through the city’s parking plan, but mayoral candidate John Cranley, who opposes the parking plan and streetcar, says the city should instead use federal funding that was originally intended for the streetcar project.

Between 2010 and 2011, the streetcar project was awarded about $40 million in federal grants — nearly $25 million through the Urban Circulator Grant, $4 million through the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Grant and nearly $11 million through TIGER 3.

The grants are highly competitive and allocated to certain projects. In the case of Cincinnati, the grants were specifically awarded to the streetcar after it was thoroughly vetted as a transit, not highway, project.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) website explains why the Urban Circulator Grant is only meant for transit projects like the streetcar: “Urban circulator systems such as streetcars and rubber-tire trolley lines provide a transportation option that connects urban destinations and foster the redevelopment of urban spaces into walkable mixed-use, high-density environments.”

The CMAQ Grant’s main goal is to fund projects that curtail congestion and pollution, with an emphasis on transit projects, according to the Federal Highway Administration. The website explains, “Eligible activities include transit improvements, travel demand management strategies, traffic flow improvements and public fleet conversions to cleaner fuels, among others.”

The DOT website says TIGER 3 money could go to a highway project, but one of the program’s goals is promoting “livability,” which is defined as, “Fostering livable communities through place-based policies and investments that increase transportation choices and access to transportation services for people in communities across the United States.” TIGER 3 is also described as highly competitive by the DOT, so only a few programs get a chance at the money.

When asked about the grants’ limitations, Cranley said, “I believe … the speaker of the house, the senator, the congressman, the governor and the mayor could petition and get that changed. Just because that may have been the way they set the grants in the first place doesn’t mean they can’t change it.”

The parking plan would lease Cincinnati’s parking assets to the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority and allocate a portion of the raised funds — $20 million — to the MLK/I-71 Interchange project, but the plan is currently being held up by a lawsuit seeking to enable a referendum.

The streetcar is one of the few issues in which Cranley and Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, a streetcar supporter who is also running for mayor, are in stark contrast (“Back on the Ballot,” issue of Jan. 23).

Cranley’s opponents recently accused him of originally supporting the streetcar when he was a council member through two 2008 City Council motions, but Cranley says those motions, which he co-sponsored, only asked the city administration to study the merits of a streetcar plan, not approve of it. Cranley voted no on the first streetcar resolution in October 2007 and the motion to actually build the streetcar in April 2008.

“I’ve never said that I’m against the (streetcar) concept in all circumstances,” Cranley says. “I wanted to know if there was a way that they could pay for it in a way that wouldn’t take away from what I thought were more important priorities.”

03.13.2013 at 02:57 Reply

Clearly what we are dealing with is a bunch of hypocrites who enjoy taking city money so long as it personally benefits them, but all of a sudden become staunch conservatives as soon as its spent elsewhere.  These are not concerned citizens, these are greedy hypocrites: 

Graeters- Took 3.1 million in city money when they built a new ice cream factory.  Now promote signing petitions outside their stores. 

Mark Piper Rogers (owners of 20th century theater and Habits)- took hundreds of thousands of city dollars to rehab a theater, making it a part-time venue only available for concerts or receptions.  They also opposed making Oakley Station an entertainment district, further attempting to limit development around Oakley, and therefore limiting the cities tax base. 

Chris Finney- Took millions from the city filing frivolous lawsuits.  Also does not even live in the city- lives in Anderson Township. 

COAST- This rogue group of white suburbanites who can't pay their own bills has the nerve to weigh in on how the city spends money.  This same group claimed Cincinnati firestation brownouts were worse than 9/11 and that the "Streetcar Mafia" killed Barry Horstman, the late Enquirer writer who was generally critical of the streetcar. 

John Cranley- So called "architect" of the MLK interchange.  Now that its an election year he is against it.  Also he took $750,000 from he city- while he was on council- to help development his real estate boondoggle in Price Hill, plus received several million in benefits from TIF and bonds issued by the Port Authority to do public improvement works in the area of his development, which ultimately caused him to resign from city council.

Chris Smitherman-  Need I say more?  A general rule of thumb, is Chris Smitherman is for something, is usually is not in the best interests of the city.  This same man tried to fight with someone (a woman) he disagreed with in city hall chambers.  He unsuccessfully led two referendums on the streetcar. He successfully led a referendum of the sale of Cincinnatis water system, claiming if sold the new owners could put Syphilis in the black communities water "So don’t tell me that they can’t and won’t send different water to different zip codes" he said on his radio show.

Pete Witte- Maybe the biggest hypocrite of them all.  He ran for city council on a platform of increasing police and reducing crime.  He said this of his number one priority if he is elected to council:  "More police presence on our streets. Very little can be done to turn around various parts of Cincinnati if safety is of such a concern. We need streets that are safe with a police department that is there to prevent crime not react to it. Many neighborhoods absolutely need this to occur now, or their demise is guaranteed. I intend to work with the police to reprioritize our thinking and to put more police on the street not behind desks or on special assignment."

He is now working to eliminate nearly 300 police and firemen, I guess not concerned about the "demise" of neighborhoods. 

These are the people behind the parking referendum.