City loses appeal over streetcar utility dispute

Posted at 3:02 PM, Nov 25, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-25 15:02:21-05

CINCINNATI — The Hamilton County Appellate Court upheld Wednesday a previous decision that the city of Cincinnati must pay Duke Energy for relocating its utility infrastructure along the new Cincinnati streetcar route in Over-the-Rhine and Downtown.

In December 2014, the Hamilton County Common Pleas Court ruled the city owed Duke $15 million for the relocation work, bringing the cost of the streetcar project up to $148 million.

As part of the city’s cooperation agreement with Duke to put the decision before a judge in 2013, the city agreed to put the $15 million in escrow, pending litigation.

Following Wednesday's decision, City Manager Harry Black said he hasn’t ruled out another appeal, which would take the case to the Ohio Supreme Court. Part of the 2013 cooperation agreement was the understanding that either party would exhaust all appeals options.

Black issued a statement Wednesday, saying, “While this decision is disappointing, it is not necessarily the end of the road. We are assessing our appeal options."

Black also emphasized that, no matter how the case ultimately concludes, “contingencies are in place” and “[s]treetcar construction remains on time and on budget.”

Meanwhile, testing on Cincinnati's streetcar vehicles continues, both here in Cincinnati and at the manufacturer's facility in Elmira, N.Y. As of Tuesday, two of the city's five vehicles had arrived at the streetcar's maintenance and operations facility in Over-the-Rhine.

Follow Pat LaFleur on Twitter (@pat_laFleur) for the latest on Cincinnati Streetcar and all things public transit in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.