Chabot questions Streetcar funds

CINCINNATI - State representative Steve Chabot (R-OH) is questioning the Department of Transportation's recent decision to award the city of Cincinnati with nearly $11 million to go toward the streetcar project.

The department's secretary, Ray LaHood, along with Mayor Mark Mallory, made the announcement about the approval of the funds today.

But Chabot thinks there are a number of projects that would better benefit from those dollars.

In a statement, Chabot says, "The Department of Transportation announced today that an additional $10.9 million in Stimulus dollars are being allocated to fund the Cincinnati streetcar project. The Brent Spence Bridge had been deemed "functionally obsolete" and is consistently named by our community as a top priority. After all, didn't President Obama himself stand at the foot of the bridge just weeks ago, noting the importance of the Brent Spence replacement? If the Department of Transportation is in need of projects to fund, I would contend that the bridge project is far more valuable to our community and would be a wiser use of these dollars."

The City of Cincinnati competed with 827 other applications to win the grant for the streetcar through the Department of Transportation's Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) III funding process.

"The fact that the Secretary came to Cincinnati to make the announcement shows that the Administration believes in this project and its ability to transform Cincinnati," Mayor Mark Mallory said during today's announcement. "The Streetcar will bring more people, more investment, and more jobs to the heart of our city. The grant allows us to extend the route from Fountain Square to the riverfront, and that will make all of the new development at the Banks more accessible to everyone."

The transit system will link The Banks to Findlay Market while future additions will reach the University of Cincinnati, the zoo and other neighborhoods. The funding from the Department of Transportation will go to lengthen the Streetcar route an additional mile, stretching the route down to the Banks Development on Second Street.

Work on the project is expected to begin in early 2012.

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