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Streetcar supporters will remain active to keep project going

Jay Hanselman
T-Shirt supporting Cincinnati streetcar project at public forum held in downtown Cincinnati Thursday evening.

Supporters of the Cincinnati streetcar are asking people to contact mayor-elect John Cranley and council members-elect to keep the project alive.  Cranley campaigned against it and vowed to stop it if elected.  

Streetcar supporters held a public forum Thursday night at the Mercantile Library in downtown.  An overflow crowd watched the session on the video board at Fountain Square.

Supporters said the project is important for three reasons: reputation, community and the future.  

Ryan Messer is one of the grassroots organizers trying to save the streetcar.

“The costs to cancel are unimaginable,” Messer said.  “It would cost upwards of $100 million to cancel the project, paralyzing the city budget.  It would damage our city’s reputation nationally and hurt our chances of getting federal funding later.”

Supporters have said all options are on the table to keep the plan going.  That includes litigation to keep the project moving forward.

Attorney Don Mooney was one of the presenters at the public forum.  He asked if the city will buy out people who have already made investments along the proposed streetcar route.

“If you purchased property or made investments in property in reliance on the city’s promise through legislation or all these plans,”  Mooney said.  “And it turned out that promise was a lie, will they create a fund to pay you back.”

Meanwhile, Mayor Mark Mallory released a letter yesterday from the Federal Transit Administration which stated the nearly $45 million of federal money allocated to the streetcar cannot be transferred to other city projects.  

The letter dated November 13th also said any federal money already spent will have to be returned.  

The FTA estimates the city has spent or committed to spend more than $116 million on the streetcar project.  The agency said that's approximately 88 percent of the total project cost.  

The letter also stated all cost associated with closing down the project, including any claims from contractors, won't be eligible for any federal reimbursement.  

Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.