The Republican governor is trying to get his hands on $52 million allocated to the green transportation project that is expected to yield $1.5 billion in new investment in inner-city Cincinnati. Problem is, the money comes from federal grant reserved for transportation projects and can’t be used to plug the state’s $8 billion deficit. Moreover, Ohio’s Transportation Review Advisory Council — which was developed to remove politics from the funding allocation process — is solidly behind the streetcar.
Randy A. Simes at Network blog Urban Cincy has the details:
Local officials close to the Cincinnati Streetcar project believe Governor Kasich is attempting to strip the funds from the streetcar and reallocate them to the $2 billion Brent Spence Bridge replacement which scored a paltry 44 points on TRAC’s transportation list. The other reality is that the money could go to the Eastern Corridor plan which had three components scoring 34, 39 and 48 points – all well below the Cincinnati Streetcar’s state-leading 84 points.
According to [Ken] Prendergast [executive director of All Aboard Ohio], the end result may be a another legal battle for the controversial governor. He says that at attempt to move the funds from the streetcar to another, lower-ranking transportation project, that Cincinnati officials would have legal grounds to sue the state for not following its own criteria in awarding federal transportation funds.
“Why is our governor against redeveloping Cincinnati’s downtown and Over-the-Rhine areas with the streetcar? Steel rails offer a far superior path to jobs and growth and clean air than yet another asphalt road pitted with potholes,” concluded Jack Shaner, deputy director of the Ohio Environmental Council.
Kasich’s militant pro-highway, anti-transit stance is all the more troubling given Census figures announced yesterday that nearly every major city in Ohio had suffered steep population losses, including Cincinnati, which shed 10.4 percent of its population. Cities like Cincinnati — which are the lynchpin of the metropolitan areas that are Ohio’s economic drivers — are in desperate need of investments that will add vitality, not highways that will continue to suck away jobs and residents. The fact that Ohio’s governor doesn’t seem to understand that is more bad news for the embattled state.
Once again, this article originally appeared on Streetsblog, which has a dedicated stream of revenue to pay me to write, and by the way is awesome.