Thursday, April 11, 2013

Streetcar to Clifton? Give it up!

A candid admission of most Streetcar backers is that the current plan to run from the Banks to Findlay Market is wasted effort and a waste of money. They at least privately acknowledge, if we can't ultimately connect "Cincinnati's two major employment centers," there is no reason to start the project.

As a result, they repeatedly hold out the prospect of building the leg up to Clifton as the justification for an otherwise unjustifiable project.  In the recent Enquirer article about the hiring of the next Streetcar manager, John Deatrick, the new hire once again held out the carrot of the Clifton leg:
But it needs the extension to Uptown, [Deatrick] said: “The University of Cincinnati connection and an integration into the bus system is needed to ensure its viability as a transit system.”
But the promise of a Clifton leg is a pipe dream, like so many rose-colored landscapes being painted by our City leaders.  Here's why:

The City can't afford to build the Clifton leg on its own.  On the state level, one of the first and most laudable acts of John Kasich as Governor was killing a $52 million ODOT grant to the project, purportedly for its O-t-R to Clifton leg.  And the Ohio legislature (thanks to the leadership of Senator Shannon Jones) has specifically outlawed further state funds for the boondoggle.  Moreover, both Cincinnati Congressmen, Steve Chabot and Lt. Col. Dr. Brad Wenstrup have announced opposition to further federal funding for the Cincinnati Streetcar.

Operationally, once the first leg of the Streetcar becomes operational (if it ever becomes operational), the operating costs will further cripple the City budget, which is why the administration refuses to release those numbers. 

Finally, we would point out that after more than six years of talk and planning, the first inch of the Streetcar track has not been laid; indeed the contract for the tracks still has not been inked.  Just how many generations of Cincinnatians will we have to live through to see that Clifton connection built?

So, Mayor Mallory, Roxanne Qualls, and their merry band of thieves at City hall need to "give it up."  The extension of the Streetcar to Clifton is a dream that is not going to happen - or happen anytime soon.  And to hold out the prospect that it will is more misrepresentations to a public weary of broken promises from politicians.

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