Thursday, February 9, 2012

$52 million here, $18.7 million there, and pretty soon it adds up to real money

Mayor Mallory and his merry band of thieves on Cincinnati City Council are desperately trying to hold out an appearance to the public that the Cincinnati Streetcar vision remains "on track."  Um huh, yeah.

Yesterday held two developments in the Streetcar world.  

First, Duke Energy issued an dramatic blow to the project, stating that negotiations on underground utility relocation (gas, electric and chilled water) were at an impasse with the City because the City was demanding ratepayers eat $18.7 million in excess costs, and the City proposed an unsafe distance between the tracks and utility lines.

Second, as the project appeared to be rapidly falling apart, Mayor Mallory in a "remain calm" moment issued a press release from his conference in D.C gathering streetcar fanatics from across the USA.  In that release, our esteemed Mayor said "let me assure you that we are moving forward on the Streetcar."  

But reading between the lines of the Mayor's press release, it is clear that the City has no "Plan B."  Either Duke relents and subsidizes the City's trolley folly, at the expense of ratepayers regionally, or the City can't move forward with the Streetcar project.  

In other words, even hiking parking meter charges, filling fewer potholes, and diverting casino revenues that have not yet started to flow the City can't fill that new $18.7 million cost overrun, and the project is not going forward.

Thus, we now see that this ruse that streetcar groundbreaking is awaiting an opening in Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood's schedule for a ceremonial visit is complete bunk.  The reality is that the Mayor's men don't yet have their Streetcar act together.  It's already three months behind schedule and $25 million over budget, and they haven't even broken ground yet. 

This blow, of course, follows by one year, the loss of $52 million for the project when our brave and visionary Governor Kasich killed state funding of the project. (Thank you, Gov'na.)

The City continues to pay the Black Knight role of "its just a scratch" and "it's merely a flesh wound," but $52 million here and $18.7 million there, and pretty soon it adds up to real money. 

God, this is fun to watch. 

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