Cincy Mayor Candidate John Cranley: Stop Streetcar Now, in Case I’m Elected

The epic political grudge match over the Cincinnati streetcar never ends.

A rendering of the Cincinnati streetcar via ##http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/article-28786-white_%28and_orange%29_noise.html##City Beat##

Never mind that contracts have been awarded and the project is already under construction. One of the city’s leading mayoral candidates, former City Councilman John Cranley, is campaigning on the promise that he will stop the project if elected next month.

A great article at City Beat Cincinnati lays out why this might be the worst idea ever floated by a mayoral hopeful. First of all, by the time Cranley would assume office, in December, more than a half mile of track will have already been laid. Scrapping the project would actually cost the city more than completing it, according to City Beat’s German Lopez:

The city could call it quits and still be on the hook for up to $95 million that’s encumbered to developers and suppliers involved in the project, on top of the $22 million the city has already spent, according to the city’s monthly streetcar progress report.

Meanwhile, completing development and construction of the 3.6-mile streetcar line would cost the city $88 million. The rest will be financed by $45 million in federal grants specifically allocated to the streetcar project.

Furthermore, if the city abruptly cancelled its contracts with builders Messer and CAF USA it would likely face costly litigation. That’s not to mention the damage the city’s credibility would suffer with the federal government and its partner firms.

Rather than backing down when presented with these facts, Cranley is asking that the project be delayed until after the election to help minimize the cost of halting it, saying that the planned construction schedule is unfair and “political.” Never mind that delaying the project would violate city contracts with the construction firms and also do a disservice to the handful of developers that have in recent weeks proposed major projects for the streetcar corridor.

Even if Cranley were elected he wouldn’t have the power to unilaterally halt the project without a majority vote from City Council, and right now a majority support the project. And Cincinnati voters have already voted twice to continue the streetcar, so it’s not even clear why Cranley thinks this is a winning political strategy. A political scientist interviewed by City Beat speculated he might be trying to “differentiate” himself from his chief opponent, fellow Democrat Roxanne Qualls.

  • Stan G.

    Are there any other countries where politicians routinely try to kill off public transit projects? This is quite similar to the Honolulu situation.

    Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

  • Fred

    If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati. Everything comes there ten years later.

  • bobblahblah

    Thanks, Mark Twain.

  • jimsey

    Canada, Rob Ford, Toronto, Transit City.

  • Jake Mecklenborg
  • Cranley and the other streetcar opponents are terrified that when the streetcar opens, it will actually be a huge success. Because once we have proof that rail transit can succeed in Cincinnati, it opens the door for future transit plans. Hamilton County is already looking into a commuter rail line to the east side; maybe a regional light rail plan is next.

    The opponents want this to fail so badly that they are willing to cancel it no matter the cost.

  • cincy smart

    Just a choo choo train for the urban elite. It is too far gone to get rid of unfortunately. I get tired of these elitists deriding those who have some intelligence. These young folks have to realize that the world does not owe them a living.

  • Patrick

    He’s taking his cues from the national stage where ones’ right to oppose supersedes ones’ right to exist. And, apparently, is valued more highly. Sad, and we had such promise, too….

  • R.A. Stewart

    Obviously there is more to transit and urban issues, but I’m always extra disappointed when a Democrat takes a position like this. (Not surprised, you understand, just disappointed.) It would be nice if we had at least somewhat of an ally in the political realm, as opposed to one party being an implacable enemy and one a weak, dithering, untrustworthy sometime kinda-friend.

    But it’s even more of a head-shaker when someone who wants to govern a city opposes something as fundamental to city life as public transit.

  • R.A. Stewart

    “The trouble with quotes on the Internet is that you can never know if they are genuine.” –Abraham Lincoln

  • Neil Clingerman

    Choo choo boondoggle train to nowhere boondogle nowhere boondocks choo. Sigh, even on national forums the COAST idiots are stating their horrible anti streetcar drivel. You know guys there are smart arguments against it that don’t resort to idiotic catchphrases 😉

  • Anonymous

    NJ governor Chris Christy and the ARC tunnel. But all he did was divert it from public transit to public highways.

  • Anonymous

    I can dig up examples from Australia and New Zealand without much work. There are also examples from India, of all places.

  • aguy7

    Public transport is for … the public; elites ride in limos.

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