NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 12, 2010

Cincinnati, a city that is down on its luck and its population, faces a $50 million deficit next year, but anxiously awaits signs that the feds will shovel some money their way to build a streetcar system in the Queen City, says Nick Gillespie is editor-in-chief of and 

  • U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is scheduled to announce nearly $300 million in federal funding for streetcar, trolley and bus proposals nationwide, with Cincinnati being one of dozens of cities in competition for the grants.
  • Cincinnati, which still needs about $42 million in additional state or federal dollars to fund the streetcar plan's $128 million first phase, has applied for a $25 million "urban circulator" grant from the U.S. Transportation Department that would significantly close the project's funding gap.
  • The city has identified about $86 million for the project, including $64 million in city bonds that Mayor Mark Mallory has pledged will not be issued unless the city receives roughly the same amount in state and federal funds. 

There is absolutely nothing that a streetcar system could possibly do to make Cincinnati a better place to live, says Gillespie.  Meanwhile, the city is promising not to spend up to $86 million unless they find someone to match them in this foolishness, unless of course, they want to go ahead and start building it anyway. 

Even if the full $128 million budget is not in place, city officials have said preliminary construction could begin this fall with relocation of utilities to clear the way for track installation for a streetcar system that will extend from Downtown's riverfront to the Uptown communities around the University of Cincinnati. 

Source: Nick Gillespie, "Why Cities Are Broke or, There is Something Tragic About a Train...," Reason Magazine, July 8, 2010. 

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