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Streetcar contingency budget looks a little better


Cincinnati officials now say the contingency budget for the city's streetcar project is estimated to be $1.3 million.  That is up from the $80,000 reported about a month ago.  

Officials updated a council committee Tuesday on the project.
“We have better information and more concrete information upon which to project those expenses,” said Chris Eilerman, a city official working on the project who explained the changes.  “Based on that we’ve been able to hone in on better numbers and the result is what you see here.”

Eilerman said there have been some design changes especially involving the fencing around power stations for the system near Findlay Market and the Hamilton County Administration building on Court Street.

“We’ve not cut station stops; we’ve not reduced the route; we’ve not cut vehicles; we’ve not made reductions in scope to achieve any additional savings in the contingency at this point,” Eilerman said.

Streetcar Project Manager John Deatrick said officials will be keeping a close eye on the contingency balance.

“We’re going to continue to do this risk evaluation sort of every minute of every day and what we show you today is a snapshot in time and is bound to change next month,” Deatrick said.  “We are working to push it down, that’s our goal.”

At least two council members say they want more detail on the refinements that resulted in the contingency fund increasing.  They are concerned nothing is sacrificed in the remaining construction in order to make the bottom line look better.   

“So you’re not sacrificing something in order to make this contingency budget feel better,” said council member Yvette Simpson.  “Because at the end of the day, we want the best product and if we end up with zero dollars I’m fine with that.  I don’t want us to begin to get panicked over some of the hysteria that ensued last month and then we start to make sacrifices that we’ll later regret.”

Meanwhile, the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority Tuesday officially released the request for proposal for operating the streetcar.  Companies must submit proposals by March, and SORTA expects to award a contract in June.

Passenger service on the system is scheduled to begin in September 2016.

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.