CINCINNATI - Flanked by city leaders and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory broke ground Friday on the controversial streetcar project.
"With today's groundbreaking we are turning the page in Cincinnati from talking about why we need to build the streetcar to actually building a streetcar," said Mallory.
The mayor spoke of the path to this day saying that it has been "long and full of challenges."
Hundreds gathered outside Memorial Hall on Elm Street to witness the groundbreaking. A crowd that was eager to hear what LaHood had to say.
"This story here is about this community coming together getting its act together setting its priorities and not being dissuaded by the naysayers or those who don't want to make any progress," said LaHood.
City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. received several loud rounds of applause from those gathered for his efforts to move the streetcar project forward.
"There have been days when some doubted this project would go. There have been some days when some were sure this project would go. There have been some days when we were elated and others when we were deflated but through it all there have been zero days when we have given up," said Dohoney.
Fanfare, or not, there is still an $18.7 million question mark hanging over the project's head. Duke Energy says it will cost that much to move underground power and gas lines. Duke refuses to pass those costs on to its rate payers.
Dohoney says the amount is more like $6 million but has acknowledged that the scope and cost of utility coordination is an issue.
Mallory told 9 News that he and other members of the city's administration are in talks with Duke and that an agreement will be reached.