Joe Urban | Sam Newberg, Urbanist

Save the Cincinnati Streetcar

Dateline: 10:21 am March 25, 2011 Filed under:

The current effort in Cinncinnati to cancel its streetcar project is both unnerving and a travesty, given recent development along its route. According to a great post on Streetsblog, the project receives a top score by the state of Ohio’s Transportation Review Advisory Council.

It is predictable but no less a travesty that elected officials would threaten to pull funding for a transportation project that scores well, but according to the Cincinnati Enquirer, that is exactly what is happening. More damning is the provision by Tom Patton, the Ohio Senate Transportation Committee Chair, to single out this specific rail project for elimination.

Looking at recent decisions in Florida and Wisconsin, it is not surprising what is happening in Ohio. Rail is not popular among conservatives, and it seems more political than fiscal, although the fiscal argument is used. Perhaps legislators should do a little research and listen to the likes of Ed Glaeser and Bill Lind, who in their separate ways argue that the right rail project in the most appropriate location can be indeed a very wise use of public dollars.

The Cincinnati streetcar is a very good project, as it links the University and downtown via the Findlay Market and re-emerging Over-the-Rhine district. The Over-the-Rhine and the Gateway Quarter are a fantastic story of leveraging public and private dollars to incentivise commerical and housing development and historic preservation. Stores are filling, condos are selling, apartments are renting and a new park is under construction. A streetcar is a very good complement to this effort and these areas of the city, as it will spur additional investment and tax revenue.

Conservatives and liberals alike win when transportation dollars are invested wisely. You can help by going to the Cincinnatians for Progress website and getting involved. Don’t let political shenaigans get in the way of intelligent transportation investments.

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