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Cincinnati Streetcar / Cincinnati Bell Connector News

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^ I'm curious about many things; I just don't need to see UO threads being hijacked for off-topic chatter.

 

Back to the streetcar: It needs to be made clear to Mallory and Qualls that abandoning the streetcar project at this stage is simply not an option. We've come this far, and this is the closest Cincinnati has come to having rail transit in generations. If it fails now, the streetcar will join the subway and other projects that are routinely held up by naysayers to demonstrate that the city is fundamentally incapable of building rail transit, and the naysayers would be proven right. While the city's renaissance may continue without the streetcar, it would certainly be drastically curtailed, and possibly even reversed. It would certainly cement my decision to move elsewhere once I'm done with grad school here.

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^I almost feel bad saying this since I love this city so much, but if the streetcar doesn't end up happening I'm not sure my desire to live here will remain, at least not at its current level. There is a lot of awesome in this city, but being someone who has no desire to ever own a car, the fundamentals of public transportation in this city need to improve for me to view my life here as being able to be as full as I want it to and the streetcar is a huge part of this for when I graduate grad school next year.

 

For those of you who have more experience with rail projects, maybe from other cities and such, what GENERALLY happens in these situations? It seems that at the very minimum the Government Square to The Banks part can be eliminated but I feel that's chopping off a HUGE amount of the marketability of this project. Maybe I missed it, but is there much bulk in these bids that can be eliminated? Not knowing the ins and outs of all aspects of streetcar infrastructure, does the current design have the ability to be cheapened enough to make the current proposed line fully possible with some alterations?

 

Also, I saw someone say that the chances of getting additional federal funds is next to impossible. Is this accurate? It would seem that with the amount of money already promised that there are people that believe in this project and with a good case for why more money is necessary could possibly cover these additional expenses.

 

Also, does anyone know if the city has pursued selling naming or advertising rights for the streetcar? Obviously this couldn't cover the entirety of the additional costs in these bids, but it could certainly help to have the stops, cars, and entire line named after major corporations interested.

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I love driving and would even consider myself somewhat of a car enthusiast (I love watching BBC's Top Gear, and if money were no object I'd buy the new 2013 Range Rover in a heartbeat), but after spending $5+ gallon for gas in California over the summer, and $3000 for a new transmission on the drive back to Cincinnati in December, I'm quickly coming around to the idea that I'd rather spend what scarce money I have on things that aren't car-related.

 

Out of curiosity, I ran some hypothetical household budgets based on salary figures and expenses I could reasonably expect to have in Cincinnati, New York, London, and Los Angeles. Much to my surprise, NYC actually came out on top in terms of the amount of money left over at the end of each month, even though I'd be paying at least double for rent there compared to Cincinnati. The reason? A higher salary there is certainly a big factor, but the kicker is the fact that I'd only be paying $104 a month for a subway pass, as opposed to several hundred a month for car payments, gas, parking, maintenance, and insurance. (Los Angeles, as you might imagine, came in dead-last in my hypothetical budget, as it combines a cost of living that approaches NYC with the need to own a car. London comes out only slightly ahead of LA because the cost of living there makes NYC look like a bargain by comparison.) Combined with the fact that I've lived in NYC before and already have good friends, an extensive professional network, and a great church community there, the burden is already on Cincinnati to convince me why I should stay here long-term. A few trendy bars and restaurants in OTR won't cut it alone, as there are a hundred in Manhattan for every one here. I have roots here in Cincinnati, but I've spent almost my entire adult life in Chicago and NYC. Building the streetcar shows that Cincinnati is serious about joining the big leagues in terms of being a real city, but if Cincinnati can't pull that off with a project as simple and inexpensive as this, then it will demonstrate that it doesn't deserve to be in the big leagues and that my future lies elsewhere.

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what LIG said & I have heard P&B tends to be fairly overpriced.

I also remember reading an article by Lind or Weyerich that discussed what streetcar installation should cost & Cincinnati was at the high end of the range.

Now Qualls appears to be running in circles - heck, she was the one who demanded the segment up to Clifton....

 

Here's the report I was babbling about by Weyrich AND Lind. Unfortunately it's from 2002 so I am sure prices should be higher. Anyway, they say $10M/mile

http://www.apta.com/resources/reportsandpublications/Documents/weyrich-streetcars.pdf

 

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It's election season. Cranley is presenting himself as the candidate who is willing to kill the streetcar no matter how much money and time has already been put into the project. Qualls is presenting herself as the candidate who is keeping the current mayor "in check", making sure the project doesn't go over-budget, and asking the city to do everything it can to finish construction by the All Star Game.

 

One thing we've learned from Issues 9 and 48 is there is overwhelming support for some kind of rail transit in Cincinnati. Hopefully Qualls can play up the fact that the streetcar will be a part of a larger network of light rail and commuter rail lines. Cranley doesn't have anything to say except "no".

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Out of curiosity, I ran some hypothetical household budgets based on salary figures and expenses I could reasonably expect to have in Cincinnati, New York, London, and Los Angeles.

 

You and I must be similar people then haha. I literally did the exact same thing this past summer when I was offered a job after grad school at the firm I was working at in Hyde Park. Like you, New York came out ahead of Cincinnati based on what I could expect to be paid there with a masters of architecture and what I know I'd get paid here if I was forced to buy a car which is unfortunately very much still necessary in this city. It's amazing how much owning and operating a car draws from your bank account.

 

I seriously hope that Qualls wins and that there is a streetcar/rail majority so that this city can see four more years of pushing towards better transportation opposed to just returning to the ways I always hear about when people talk about the Cincinnati from before my move here for school. I fell in love with this city pretty quickly and part of that was the push to be progressive and the streetcar kind of epitomizes this.

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WLW saying that the cost was originally estimated at $45mil and is now over $130mil and nearing 300% over the original estimate. 

 

 

.... and that how can the City have money for a Streetcar but cannot come up with money for a new bridge...

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From my perspective, this is a PR nightmare. I don't have perspective from Portland, or Seattle, but I keep thinking: "Where is the leadership?" The PR/messaging/working together seems so mismanaged. It's easy to blame Duke, COAST, Smitherman for this project's constant fumblings. But when do we hold leadership accountable? I can't help but wonder what good leadership would do/have done for this project and if a lot of this bs could have been avoided if such was the case.

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I just don't think the other cities had to deal with this kind of opposition. Not even the ones in NASCARland. Those Southern states and Texas are way more car-obsessed than Ohio yet they're capable of saying "Just let those city slickers do their thing; it isn't hurting anybody". But here it's "worse than 9/11" because the suburbanites are so terrified of their houses losing value among other things.

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listened to some of the Smitherman interview....

 

funny how no real reasons are ever given and they just say "the city will go bankrupt" and is not proven with any numbers, or facts. Just repeating the word bankrupt 1,000,000 times and saying that the Mallory and Qualls are terrible.  And that no one will use the streetcar and it will just be for homeless people. 

 

Frustrating isn't the right word to describe this...

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From my perspective, this is a PR nightmare. I don't have perspective from Portland, or Seattle, but I keep thinking: "Where is the leadership?" The PR/messaging/working together seems so mismanaged. It's easy to blame Duke, COAST, Smitherman for this project's constant fumblings. But when do we hold leadership accountable? I can't help but wonder what good leadership would do/have done for this project and if a lot of this bs could have been avoided if such was the case.

 

I have long felt the undoing of this project could occur because it has NO VOICE OF REASON in the mainstream media countering the brazen lies of the opposition.  Folks on UO are a microscopic speck of influence in relation to what the average citizen is exposed to regarding the streetcar.  I have had to continually re-educate friends and neighbors to maintain their support for this project.  However, all they see and hear is negative negative negative stuff, that even with my rational perspective is really wearing thin on them.  At this point, if Ditherman or Miller were to say so, I think most people are ready to believe that the Cincinnati Streetcar is responsible for the Russian Meteor today, and it MUST be stopped!

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From my perspective, this is a PR nightmare. I don't have perspective from Portland, or Seattle, but I keep thinking: "Where is the leadership?" The PR/messaging/working together seems so mismanaged. It's easy to blame Duke, COAST, Smitherman for this project's constant fumblings. But when do we hold leadership accountable? I can't help but wonder what good leadership would do/have done for this project and if a lot of this bs could have been avoided if such was the case.

 

I have long felt the undoing of this project could occur because it has NO VOICE OF REASON in the mainstream media countering the brazen lies of the opposition.  Folks on UO are a microscopic speck of influence in relation to what the average citizen is exposed to regarding the streetcar.  I have had to continually re-educate friends and neighbors to maintain their support for this project.  However, all they see and hear is negative negative negative stuff, that even with my rational perspective is really wearing thin on them.  At this point, if Ditherman or Miller were to say so, I think most people are ready to believe that the Cincinnati Streetcar is responsible for the Russian Meteor today, and it MUST be stopped!

 

I highly doubt Smitherman or Miller even know about the Russian meteor. They are so foaming-at-the-mouth obsessed with the single-issue streetcar - and only the streetcar - that they don't strike me as too aware of anything else. Smitherman has done absolutely ZERO for this city since he's been elected. He spends all his time on the radio trashing the city - not exactly the ideal job for a city councilmember.

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Out of curiosity, I ran some hypothetical household budgets based on salary figures and expenses I could reasonably expect to have in Cincinnati, New York, London, and Los Angeles.

 

You and I must be similar people then haha. I literally did the exact same thing this past summer when I was offered a job after grad school at the firm I was working at in Hyde Park. Like you, New York came out ahead of Cincinnati based on what I could expect to be paid there with a masters of architecture and what I know I'd get paid here if I was forced to buy a car which is unfortunately very much still necessary in this city. It's amazing how much owning and operating a car draws from your bank account.

 

This is so odd to me.  I've lived car free in Milwaukee, Chicago, and Cincinnati...and Cincinnati is BY FAR the easiest to live in without a car.  It's easy to live anywhere in Uptown, Downtown, and to a lesser extent Northside without a car.  Metro is frequent and connects all major nodes, Zipcar makes getting to the suburbs occasionally possible, and best of all there are many grocery options that are easily accessible.  I think people fail to factor in scale when comparing cities.  They say "It's easy to take transit between Lakeview and the Loop in Chicago."  My response is, "It's easy to take transit from Downtown to Northside in Cincinnati."  People then argue that it's not easy to get to Rookwood to go shopping...well it's not exactly easy to  get to Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg either.  I love my car free life here.  Could it be better?  Absolutely.  Is it necessary to own a car here.  Absolutely not.

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This is so odd to me.  I've lived car free in Milwaukee, Chicago, and Cincinnati...and Cincinnati is BY FAR the easiest to live in without a car.  It's easy to live anywhere in Uptown, Downtown, and to a lesser extent Northside without a car.

 

The problem is when you try to go anywhere besides Uptown, Downtown, or Northside. The rest of the region is essentially off-limits unless you're willing to make multiple transfers and/or stand at a bus stop in the rain for 30 minutes. Metro does the best they can with the limited resources they have available, but there's no comparison between Metro's bus service and an extensive rail system. Chicago's rail transit system is pathetically inadequate for a city of that size, but far more of the city is easily accessible via public transit than in Cincinnati. Unlike Cincinnati, major shopping districts like North Michigan Avenue, the Clybourn Corridor, the South Loop, and many neighborhood business districts that contain high-quality urban grocery stores are accessible via rail transit in Chicago. And none of those cities can begin to compare with NYC, where almost the entire city (save for Staten Island and some more remote areas of Queens) are accessible with frequent, 24-hour subway service that usually includes express and local routes.

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I attended the bid opening that took place a week ago and have been asking around and learning more since then.

 

Here's what happened: I entered a large conference room in the city's purchasing department and took a seat in the back row. There were maybe three dozen men and women there, generally contractor-types. An earnest city employee walks in with a big box and opens it. He announces what the bidding is for and starts opening a bunch of FedEx-type packages. Contractors were able to bid on the entire job, or they could bid on one of its five divisions.

 

The reader, for lack of a better word, opened the first envelope. He confirmed that is was in good order ... "ABC Contractor has a bond, the form is correct, etc." When either the first or second bid was read aloud, a woman seated near the front said something like, "We didn't bid on that." Everyone laughed. Another couple of bids were opened that may have been disqualified because they were only submitted in electronic form. The "number" was not printed on the form as the city requires. Which seems reasonable to me. I mean, if you're going to read bids publicly, you need to have something to read. Anyway, whether these contractors' bids were eventually honored, I dunno.

 

The three GC's who submitted bids each had an assignment clause under which they each agreed to charge the city a markup of 5% on any subcontractors which had independent low bids, which the city has the right to assign to the GC as substitutes for the sub the GC originally teamed with.

 

it may be the case that for some major items, perhaps signals and electric gear, that only one sub bid. If so, this is a market failure.

 

What I'm hearing is that if you look at the lowest prices in each component division and add them all up, you get very close to what the city has estimated. So there is a path forward.

 

My take is that this was a failed bid process. Here's why: something like 80 companies downloaded the bid package from the city's web site, so there was quite a bit of initial interest in the project. But only three GC's bid on it. Which means to me that there was something in the bid package or in the nature of the job that caused fewer companies to bid and bid aggressively. I've heard some reasonable guesses as to why so many bidders didn't bid. But I'm not going to speculate.

 

I suspect the job seems risky to large, out-of-town contractors who know little about Cincinnati, and this may explain why the local team's bid was so much lower. But when you have a mayor candidate and several council candidates going around saying the project should be stopped, that has a chilling effect. Even if there are contract protections that would make the contractors whole in the event of a cancellation -- which I no longer believe is possible -- fewer companies want to mobilize for a job that they think could be ended midway through. Could be bad for the company's reputation. And there's plenty of work out there right now.

 

Anyway, my take is that this situation is manageable. The city administration is moving ahead. And Roxanne Qualls assured me today that she stands behind the project but wants to ensure we're getting the best pricing from the best contractor team available. This project has met every challenge so far, and it will meet this one too.

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Thanks, John, for that perspective. I was just thinking to myself that I hoped you would chime in soon. You always seem to put things in to a better frame. As I was reviewing the public document the city put out with bid numbers, I came to the same conclusion that if you look at the low bids for each of the components, you arrive at the city's estimate. The fact that 1 company didn't reach that number themselves is interesting, but I don't think we're at a stage of intractability here. The very vocal (and minority) opponents are foaming at the mouth and have been able to grab hold of the total number and oversimplify this process. If other public works projects got this same level of scrutiny, nothing would ever get done... and that's the most frustrating aspect of this entire debate.

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I love my car free life here.  Could it be better?  Absolutely.  Is it necessary to own a car here.  Absolutely not.

 

^I understand the point you're trying to make, and I agree with you for the most part.  But keep in mind that you relocated here, so I'm guessing most people that you know live in the neighborhood you live in, or some other urban area that is easily reachable via transit.  But for natives, that is rarely the case.  Despite living in an urban area myself, I continually find myself needing a vehicle to reach family in the 'burbs.  The streetcar doesn't change that, and even light rail wouldn't change that immediately.  We're pretty much lashed to automobiles in this city for the foreseeable future.  Better transit will just help us minimize that.

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Everything that has happened over the past few days is beyond disappointing. I have serious concerns about what this means for continued growth in OTR at the pace we have become accustomed to over the past year. I can't imagine how upset some of the investors are...investors who trusted that, all things considered, our elected officials were making the right decisions with credible data. Clearly they were not and bit off more than they could chew.

 

It's not that the bids came back over budget, it's that they came back on a totally different planet. The discrepancy is high enough that even a significant amount of value-engineering is not going to bring these costs back to something managable.

 

I try to explain to people why living in Cincinnati can be incredibly frustrating sometimes and this situation is only another talking point. There is something about this city that simply doesn't allow us to be as nimble as our peers in these kinds of matters.

 

I hate to be all doom and gloom, but I doubt this thing will get built now. I really do doubt it. This entire situation has the potential to leave a very bad taste in everyone's mouth about OTR, the current administration and the overall ability to fiscally trust the City for a very long time.

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^^ well, John's words actually made me feel better about things.  But if you're feeling all doom and gloom about it, why not just step away from news coverage of it for a week or two?  It sounds like Qualls and other streetcar supporters need to regroup and rework things for abit anyway, so ath this point trying to stay on top of things is just people passing back and forth scary sounding rumors and the latest poop from the idiot nattering nabobs of negativity on WLW.

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I hate to play the conspiracy card... I wonder if there was a campaign to influence potential contractors. With a little research one could probably find out who worked similar projects across the country. Then bombard them with the crap we hear daily. Like John said, why would they want to get involved...

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What the hell is this about?

 

Duke Energy Sues City of Cincinnati Over Streetcar

http://www.local12.com/content/breaking_news/story/Duke-Energy-Sues-City-of-Cincinnati-Over-Streetcar/8EY2ZDF55kqHuNhJ-v8iuw.cspx

 

We have new information involving the dispute between Duke Energy and the City of Cincinnati. It has to do with the cost of moving utilities for the streetcar project.

 

Local 12 News has obtained a lawsuit filed by Duke within the past 24 hours. In the lawsuit, the power company claims the streetcar is also a public utility. As such, Duke argues, it is unconstitutional for the city to show favoritism, and force Duke to cover the cost of moving the utilities.

 

That project is expected to cost about $15 million.

 

We'll have more on this story coming up on Local 12 News at Five.

 

How are they filing this now, when they just agreed to let a court decide who pays?

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I'm assuming one of the two parties had to sue the other to bring it to court? I think it's essentially outlining their case and the city will be "defendents" in the case. Not sure though. I doubt this is an "attack" on the streetcar. Anyone else have insight?

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Don't know what effect this has on the project

 

 

@JohnKasich appoints GOP Beth Trombold to unexpired Democratic/Independent seat on PUCO. http://ow.ly/hLnI2

 

“My political party affiliation is Republican”, writes Trombold in January 2012.

 

Three of the commissioners are already Republicans – including climate-change denier Todd Snitchler – but because Trombold has not voted in the past few primary elections, she is now claiming to be an “Independent” to get appointed to the seat.

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that appointment won't have any affect on this action because it's being decided by a Court not by PUCO. The Ohio Democratic Party has promised to file a lawsuit over this appointment as its a violation of Ohio law.

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^exactly

dunno why the news is acting like it's something new

well, yeah, I do know why.....

Yep it's called piling on.

 

Why are they suing the city  for 15 million, but not the state for 87 million on the Brent Spence Bridge for the cost to move the utilities there? Seems ass backwards.

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I love my car free life here.  Could it be better?  Absolutely.  Is it necessary to own a car here.  Absolutely not.

 

^I understand the point you're trying to make, and I agree with you for the most part.  But keep in mind that you relocated here, so I'm guessing most people that you know live in the neighborhood you live in, or some other urban area that is easily reachable via transit.  But for natives, that is rarely the case.  Despite living in an urban area myself, I continually find myself needing a vehicle to reach family in the 'burbs.  The streetcar doesn't change that, and even light rail wouldn't change that immediately.  We're pretty much lashed to automobiles in this city for the foreseeable future.  Better transit will just help us minimize that.

 

Visiting family in the burbs without a car is an issue in every American city.  When I lived in Chicago, my sister was in Channahon, IL...which is not exactly accessible via transit.  I ended up renting a Zipcar every week or so to see her.  Even now, I rent a car about once per week and it's still more cost effective than owning one. 

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Yea - it isn't a uniquely Cincinnati thing. I lived without a car in Indianapolis and was fine. I took the bus where I needed and walked or biked everywhere else. I took MegaBus to Chi. or Cincinnati and when necessary, rented a car to go to Columbus.

 

Now that I live in Center City Philly, with one of the best regional rail systems in the country, I still see times I need a car if I realistically want to travel out to the burbs and beyond. The regional system, although very expansive here, can't serve all the sprawl. ZipCar is my saving grace for those moments. It will always beat owning a car and the worries of parking that it comes with living in Center City.

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Chris Smitherman just said on 700wlw that Mallory, Qualls, The city manager, streetcar supporters, Cincinnatians for Progress and city council set out this plan to intentionally deceive the public by telling them the costs would be much lower than they let on.  That They conspired to get this done by intentionally misleading the public

 

He then blamed them for the 'no means yes' and 'yes means no' votes.  He said Mallory, Qualls, and City Council do not have business men and women of the African American community best interest at heart and that Cranley does

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Go read Nate Livingsto's blog, Cranley & Smitherman are playing up the race card in order to get the AA vote. Now it looks like they'll play the race card in an attempt to further divide Cincinnati over the streetcar , this time along racial lines.

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