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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Cost to halt project could run $125 million, Cincinnati Streetcar says


The total cost to cancel the Cincinnati Streetcar could run as high as $125.3 million, about $8 million less than the cost to complete the project, the streetcar's executive director informed Cincinnati budget officials yesterday.

In a report to the City Council's Budget and Finance Committee, John Deatrick estimated that it would cost the city $63 million to $80 million to halt the project, plus an additional $44.9 million in federal grants that would need to be returned, according to Deatrick's presentation, which was posted on the city's website.

If completed, the streetcar would operate daily on a 3.6-mile loop connecting key communities within the city's urban core.  It would connect with the city's existing Metro and other transportation systems.

The possibility of cancellation became reality on Nov. 5, when John Cranley was elected mayor. Cranley, who takes office next month, promised to cancel the project if elected. In local media interviews, he called the streetcar a waste of money. After the election, he called on the city to immediately stop construction. Also elected on Nov. 5 were new City Council representatives who opposed the project.

Streetcar construction already has begun. Replacement and relocation of utilities are being relocated; construction of track, a maintenance facility and stations is under way; and five streetcar vehicles have been ordered and are being manufactured by CAF USA. The cars, which are designed as light-rail vehicles, mark CAF USA's entry into the U.S. streetcar market, according to Deatrick's report.

About $32.8 million has been paid or is in the process of being paid toward work already completed, Deatrick said. Closing out the construction project could take from six months to a year, he added.

Deatrick's estimates do not include the cost of legal action that might be taken against the city if the project is cancelled.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/22/2013