Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Hartmann speaks out against $300M light rail project

CINCINNATI -- A Hamilton County Commissioner is speaking out against a transportation project that would cost almost twice the amount of the streetcar project’s estimated price.

The $300 million project focuses on a light rail, (an electric rail-borne form of transport which can be developed in stages from a tramway to a rapid transit system operated partially on its own right-of-way, according to UITP ) that would run from downtown Cincinnati to Milford, Ohio, and Greg Hartmann has spoken out against the development.

"The ridership numbers, I've got some questions about, but my biggest questions are about costs,” Hartman said. “How are we going to pay the $300 million for light rail to go east? There's been a lot of attention paid to the streetcar, but we're on the break of a decision here, and to this point, the reason we're involved as county commissioners is our transportation improvement district has been carrying the ball on the Eastern Corridor project for quite some time."

Hartmann said he has not seen enough evidence to convince him that the project makes sense.

"We're really at a point where we've got to decide what this project, if anything, is,” Hartmann said. “I really believe light rail does not make a lot of sense at this point going east. We don't have any light rail at all in this community and to start going from downtown to Clermont County really doesn't make a lot of sense for $300 million."

Many residents in the community are opposing the streetcar’s cost and Hartmann says there is no way to pay for the light rail and Oasis line.

“At this point I'm prepared to say I don't support light rail going east, and I haven't done that yet, but that's kind of where we are,” Hartmann said. “If we can't afford to pay for it, if it's not our number one priority as a region, we need to move on from those discussions and have more evaluation about whether the road project makes sense."

Hartmann said the decision needs to be made whether the light rail fits into the community’s transportation priorities and the discussion about the project needs to happen now.

“We've got to see what the support is, where the state is,” Hartmann said. “We certainly can't do this without significant state support and federal as well."

For more information on the proposed project, click here: http://www.uitp.org/Public-Transport/light-rail/index.cfm

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