Would you have voted to waste $42 million on this?Why did a city with no passenger rail transportation spend $42 million on ANOTHER train station? Did elected representatives spend our money the way we wanted them to? Judging by comments to this Enquirer article, most voters never knew it was there, and certainly would not have approved it.
Is This "Progress" ?
City officials weren't required to consult taxpayers, but we still expect honesty and transparency. After getting shellacked at the polls by more than 2:1 on the previous billion-plus dollar light rail proposal, pro-rail planners took their efforts underground, resolving never to deal with voters again. When begging for state or federal money, they tout the "multimodal" or rail aspects of the Transit Center boondoggle; but around here they spin it as a bus station and parking lot. Even pro-rail junkies call it "Cincinnati's Other Abandoned Subway" in homage to the city's earlier boondoggle.
Today the Transit Center seems destined to rust out before the first train choo-choos through it. There is talk of using it for the 3C and Eastern Corridor projects; but neither has any funding yet, and as state and federal governments grow increasingly broke, the odds look slimmer every day. What's more, the Transit Center was so poorly planned that it's virtually impossible to get a train in or out of it without shutting down traffic in lower downtown. Instead, Amtrak is eyeing the Montgomery Inn Boathouse to become yet another train station.
So what's next for the Transit Center boondoggle? Former Cincinnati Mayor, and seven-term Democrat Congressman Tom Luken has asked the Ohio Inspector General to investigate it for fraud. Meanwhile Hamilton County also received a $5.5 million loan to connect parking garages at The Banks to the monstrous cavern. Looks like the boondoggle continues.
What You Can Do About It
This November, Cincinnatians will have an opportunity to vote on an anti-boondoggle charter amendment. Here's what you will see on the ballot:
"The City, and its various Boards and Commissions, may not spend any monies for right-of-way acquisition or construction of improvements for passenger rail transportation (e.g., a trolley or streetcar) within the city limits without first submitting the question of approval of such expenditure to a vote of the electorate of the City and receiving a majority affirmative vote for the same."It doesn't block the city from doing a streetcar or any other rail transit. It merely requires officials to get voter's approval before putting us on the hook for the big-ticket aspects of a rail project.
City administrations past and present have saddled us with a subway boondoggle, a Union Terminal boondoggle, a Riverfront Transit Center boondoggle, and now a streetcar boondoggle. A dismal track record spanning nearly a century merits this extra scrutiny.