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Phase II posturing

 

Streetcar Phase II: An uphill battle

Extending line to Uptown, major city employment center, faces roadblocks

 

Efforts are quietly underway to get Cincinnati’s streetcar route another mile up the hill, just weeks after work resumed on the initial Downtown loop.

 

Already the challenges are mounting.

 

Uncertain costs and complex utility-line relocation are just the start. Political opposition also threatens to complicate plans for expanding the route to Uptown, a major employment center for 55,000 people.

 

Project leaders, meanwhile, are being asked by the pro-streetcar Obama administration, some City Council members and influential local supporters to update plans for expanding the route.


“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”
-Friedrich Nietzsche

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Does the Cincinnati system have any safeguards along these lines?

 

In icy weather, they can have one streetcar driving around the loop overnight (not picking up passengers) to keep ice from forming on the overhead wire.

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Amy Murray on 700WLW this morning sort-of endorsing a streetcar extension.  Estimated its cost as anywhere between $900,000 and $600 million.  Yes, a $599.1 million swing in her cost estimates. 

 

I'm more convinced than ever that she has a screw loose and was good at networking and first impressions but bad with follow-through in her career at P&G.  She presents herself as an international dynamo, but if so why did she leave?

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She is for light rail though. The only positive I heard.

 

She knows that streetcars are light rail, right? And that the tracks we're building can serve any kind of light rail train?

 

She said she 'likes light rail' but that the region will never support it.

 

She's a full supporter of BRT first

 

On 55krc, she said that she's not sure the streetcars can go up Vine street when there is snow or ice on the ground

 

She also said there's a possibility there could be no ROI on the streetcar phase 1

 

Brian Thomas also said 'To hell with City Council' while she laughed...and laughed...and laughed

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She is for light rail though. The only positive I heard.

 

She knows that streetcars are light rail, right? And that the tracks we're building can serve any kind of light rail train?

 

Grade-separating the next phase would make this abundantly clear, weakening many opposition taking-points.

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She is for light rail though. The only positive I heard.

 

She knows that streetcars are light rail, right? And that the tracks we're building can serve any kind of light rail train?

 

Grade-separating the next phase would make this abundantly clear, weakening many opposition taking-points.

 

We've destroyed countless opposition talking points over the years.  It doesn't matter.  They just keep on making up new ones

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Surprised no one posted this from yesterday:

 

Streetcar alters Opening Day parade route

 

Work on Cincinnati’s streetcar will force the iconic Findlay Market Opening Day Parade to take a detour this year.

 

The 95th annual parade will pass through Over-the-Rhine on Elm Street instead of Race Street prior to the Reds’ season-opening game March 31, parade chairman Neil Luken said Monday.

 

“We’re not trying to (tick) people off,” Luken said. “We’re doing this to accommodate the streetcar construction, and next year we can march down Race again. It might inconvenience some people, but in some ways it’s better because people can view the parade from the steps of Music Hall.”

 

Cont


"It's just fate, as usual, keeping its bargain and screwing us in the fine print..." - John Crichton

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She is for light rail though. The only positive I heard.

 

She knows that streetcars are light rail, right? And that the tracks we're building can serve any kind of light rail train?

 

Grade-separating the next phase would make this abundantly clear, weakening many opposition taking-points.

 

We've destroyed countless opposition talking points over the years.  It doesn't matter.  They just keep on making up new ones

 

At least it would respond to the vocal contingent that claims to be pro-LRT but skeptical of the streetcar. If enough of them are honest, allying them with the already strong pro-streetcar base should make for a potent political force. Plus we need a bold vision to keep motivational momentum. We are constantly at risk of waning morale. I certainly feel battle fatigue, and I've only been participating from afar. Grade-separated access to Uptown is something to get excited about; battling over Duke's oil-suspended powerline sounds So. Yawn. Inducing. (I know that might turn out to be nothing, but I think it helps illustrate my point.)

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Surprised no one posted this from yesterday:

 

Streetcar alters Opening Day parade route

 

Work on Cincinnati’s streetcar will force the iconic Findlay Market Opening Day Parade to take a detour this year.

 

The 95th annual parade will pass through Over-the-Rhine on Elm Street instead of Race Street prior to the Reds’ season-opening game March 31, parade chairman Neil Luken said Monday.

 

“We’re not trying to (tick) people off,” Luken said. “We’re doing this to accommodate the streetcar construction, and next year we can march down Race again. It might inconvenience some people, but in some ways it’s better because people can view the parade from the steps of Music Hall.”

 

Cont

 

It's a non-story. Enquirer is back to trolling for streetcar clicks. Showing again why they came out in force to keep the project alive -- it's the biggest cash-cow they've got.

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Does starting at Race and Liberty then heading west to Elm make any sense to anyone else? Why wouldn't you just stage the parade like it normally is staged (starting on Elder St.) and just go down Elm to Central instead of Race?

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I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict that at least half the suburban folks who come down for the parade won't even remember the difference between Elm and Race.

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So...I was just on the bus and some guy shouted "You should drive the streetcar to Canada and take Governor Kasich to the hospital!" 

All this tells me is that streetcar conversation was so pervasive that some schizophrenics have embedded it in their subconscious.  Cheers!

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What 700wlw, politicians & the Enquirer did with the streetcar message should be a study in human psychology.  They took control of the issue from the beginning with propaganda & extreme quotes, and now the people feel some emotional attachment even to the mere mention of the word.

 

 

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It is funny because 700 WLW, from a newer residents perspective, actually has top notch sports coverage, which I am sure the main draw for many people.

 

But they still throw jabs and punches at the streetcar whenever they get the chance.  They  have their own agenda, keep building in the burbs, keep buying those tires and cars, etc.  Then they lure in a large, uneducated class of people that don't understand finances and are too lazy to look them up.  So what Cunningham or Connor say is their gold.  Then you have Smitherman and Murray and Cranley on there "venting" because they didn't get their way, because they couldn't pull off what their lobbyists wanted.

 

It is old school vs. new school.  And the old school wants the public to believe change is bad, they want to keep the old status quo where everyone else has already passed them by.  Heck even Iowa is more progressive, in a lot of ways.

 

Take for example my hometown Cedar Rapids, IA.  They just passed a county wide local option sales tax of 1 cent on the dollar for the next 20 years to fix infrastructure.  There this is fixing roads/pot holes caused by long winters, not rail as Cedar Rapids is mostly single family, car oriented with a metro population of approximately 250,000 people.  The city also re-vamped and rebuilt the arena, streetscaped extensively, rebuilt the hotel to jump start the downtown again after the devastating flood, and that cost them around 80 million.  They are also remaking the west side riverfront into green space parks, Amphitheatre, bike trails, and a new casino.

 

But can you imagine Hamilton County passing a 1 cent on the dollar local option sales tax for infrastructure and other strategic redevelopment?  I couldn't see it happening.

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^We've passed plenty of tax increases in Hamilton County.  The stadiums, library, museum center, and zoo are all supported through HamCo taxes.  The problem is, the entire region uses these things, yet we are the only ones who end up paying for them.  Northern Kentucky and Butler, Warren, and Clermont Counties are freeloaders.

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^Maybe we should be working on a modular regional transit plan then.  You could have one cohesive plan with parts that are compatible but not reliant on eachother.  So you could have portions for Cincinnati, and then Butler, Warren, Hamilton, Kenton, Campbell, and Boone counties.  Whoever chooses to fund their portion gets their portion.  If Campbell County wants Newport and NKU tied into light rail, then pass a tax.  Same with Boone County and the Florence Mall.  It would be great to have the whole transit system, but you could start a very nice system with buy in from just 3 of those 7 entities.  The others could come on board later or never.  Cincinnati's is probably the only lynchpin here, but it's also the one most likely to vote for transit.

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Guys, those non-core counties (Butler, Warren, Clermont and Boone; and now ones even further out than that in both KY & OH) are built around new car-centric subdivision.  That's not going to change anytime soon.  That's why the streetcar is so important: it's a City-controlled (as much as possible) transit system designed to increase density.  Once it is in place and starts to work it's success will snowball.  Inner-ring suburbs are going to want to be connected to the City and a larger commuter system may be possible within Hamilton County.  But those far out exurbs aren't going to be interested for some time.

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^We've passed plenty of tax increases in Hamilton County.  The stadiums, library, museum center, and zoo are all supported through HamCo taxes.  The problem is, the entire region uses these things, yet we are the only ones who end up paying for them.  Northern Kentucky and Butler, Warren, and Clermont Counties are freeloaders.

 

The Zoo and Museum Center property taxes are extremely small.  It's around $10 annually for one and $30 annually for the other on a $100,000 valuation.  Meanwhile the public school property tax for that same home will be around $800-1200 depending on the district.  We're paying all this money for people to go to school yet fewer than 1% of the graduates ever look anything up, meaning they're vulnerable to COAST, Dusty Rhodes, et al. 

 

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What about a Hamilton County small sales tax for an in-county transportation plan?

 

Instead of the very large metro moves plan?  I am sure this was talked about before but just curious to what you all think the reception would be on that?

 

Then, other counties could see how well it works and then put their money into it.

 

Also, how high are taxes in Cincinnati / Hamilton County compared to peer cities in the region?  I could do some digging but figured some of you may know off the top of your head.

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Every tax in Columbus is higher than in Cincinnati -- earnings tax, sales tax, property tax.  Cincinnati gets tons of revenue from the various Fortune 500 salaries and the railroad income which is why it can have lower tax rates. 

 

 

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What about a Hamilton County small sales tax for an in-county transportation plan?

 

Instead of the very large metro moves plan?  I am sure this was talked about before but just curious to what you all think the reception would be on that?

 

Then, other counties could see how well it works and then put their money into it.

 

Hard to say once you're talking about light rail, but since so much of the Streetcar resistance came from outside of the city limits, my guess is that Hamilton County wouldn't support it.  I hope I'm wrong about that.  That's why I suggested going to Cincinnati and each county simultaneously.  If Hamilton County did vote down a tax, but Cincinnati and perhaps Kenton or Campbell county approved taxes, you could at least start connecting Cincinnati with Covington, Newport, Bellevue, and NKU.  Start a regional grass roots movement, find out who supports what, and start building based on that.  If it turns out that Cincinnati stands alone, so be it.

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I hope I'm wrong, but its still my feeling that a large chunk of those citizens 'clamoring for light rail instead of the streetcar' were just saying that to kill the streetcar.

 

For instance, Smitherman and Cranley both said "I support light rail". Does anyone honestly believe that either would support a sales tax increase or pursuing federal funds for light rail? 

 

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Columbus property and sales taxes are horrible.

 

I had a 1400 sq. ft. 1970's ranch style house in Westerville and was paying $3100/yr in property taxes on it when I sold it in 2008. A year later a former neighbor told me that figure jumped to $4500/yr. Who knows what it is now!

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I wonder how much of a sales tax over what period of time would need to be implemented for a successful system?  Example, half a cent over 20 years would get you x amount of light rail miles with x amount of stations, and get you x amount of streetcar miles with x amount of stations.

 

All of that said, I wonder how we can lobby to get the state to spend more of their transportation bill on fixed rail transit, or any type of public transit for that matter?

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I wonder how much of a sales tax over what period of time would need to be implemented for a successful system?  Example, half a cent over 20 years would get you x amount of light rail miles with x amount of stations, and get you x amount of streetcar miles with x amount of stations.

 

All of that said, I wonder how we can lobby to get the state to spend more of their transportation bill on fixed rail transit, or any type of public transit for that matter?

 

We could.  Unfortunately the highway/oil lobby has a stranglehold on our state elected officials.  Kasich, who appointed oil men on all the transportation boards, all the way down to the state senators & representatives.  Can't really do much right now

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I wonder how much of a sales tax over what period of time would need to be implemented for a successful system?  Example, half a cent over 20 years would get you x amount of light rail miles with x amount of stations, and get you x amount of streetcar miles with x amount of stations.

 

All of that said, I wonder how we can lobby to get the state to spend more of their transportation bill on fixed rail transit, or any type of public transit for that matter?

 

The distance of lines that can be built with X amount of local income is unknown because state and federal grants are unknown.  That said there are a few recent examples of lines being built entirely with local funds.  The $2 billion #7 subway extension in NYC is locally funded as was the Clayton extension of the St. Louis Metrorail.  In each case bypassing the federal process allowed construction to commence quickly.  It also can enable construction of tunnels and other features that the feds would not endorse due to the metrics by which they award funds.

 

A 1/2 cent Hamilton County sales tax would generate $60 million annually, so obviously double that for a cent.  However a significant portion of either tax hike would go to bus improvements and possibly other elements, like a culture tax.

 

So imagine a 1/2 cent sales that first pays of the stadium bonds, then switches to a split between buses, rail, and culture that would enable modest transit improvements and the elimination of the Hamilton County property taxes for the Museum Center and Cincinnati Zoo.  That tax would permit construction of a single light rail line, so better make sure it is the right project.

 

Another option is the city continuing to build-out a streetcar/light rail system with all "local" stops, then the county or multi-county tax building the "express" at some future date.

 

 

 

 

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I'm generally not in favor of sales taxes, as they disproportionately hurt the poor and are, in fact, regressive taxes. This lowers the buying poor of the already poor by increasing the prices of goods and services. An extreme example of this regressiveness was the stadium deal - a tax increase in the form of a sales tax (disproportionately hurts the poor) coupled with a tax decrease in the form of a property tax rollback (disproportionately benefits wealthy with high-value homes). The stadia were truly built on the backs of the poor.

 

However, in this case, I don't see a better option. :-/ An increase in the sales tax to close the stadium deal and then invest in transit and culture would be a great solution. The only way I'd see this pass, however, would be if the Museum and Zoo levies were ended coincidentally. This would be a regressive solution, for sure. However, the poor would benefit from increased transit improvements and access.

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I wonder how much of a sales tax over what period of time would need to be implemented for a successful system?  Example, half a cent over 20 years would get you x amount of light rail miles with x amount of stations, and get you x amount of streetcar miles with x amount of stations.

 

All of that said, I wonder how we can lobby to get the state to spend more of their transportation bill on fixed rail transit, or any type of public transit for that matter?

 

We could.  Unfortunately the highway/oil lobby has a stranglehold on our state elected officials.  Kasich, who appointed oil men on all the transportation boards, all the way down to the state senators & representatives.  Can't really do much right now

 

Thanks for all of the answers.  On Kasich, smh.  What are the proposed transportation policies by the challenger (Fitzgerald?) and what are his chances of being elected?  Does it look like Kasich will get another term?

 

I found this endorsement on Fitzgerald's campaign website, which is a good sign, I guess!

 

http://www.edfitzgeraldforohio.com/uncategorized/2013/fitzgerald-receives-endorsement-transport-workers-america/

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