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Cincinnati Streetcar project moves forward without TIGER funds

Cincinnati Streetcar project leaders and advocates were dealt some disappointment last week when Cincinnati found out that it had not received any grant money from the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program.

Port and freight rail projects came out as the big winners with northern Ohio receiving ten of millions of dollars as part of the National Gateway Freight Rail Corridor.  Nearby, Indianapolis received $20 million for pedestrian and bike trails through downtown Indianapolis as part of the TIGER awards.  Overall there were 1,457 applications totaling over $59 billion in requests for the $1.5 billion up for grabs, with only 51 projects receiving funding in the end.

"Our project is simply one of many good projects that will be competing for the other funding that is still available," said Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory.  "And, let me be clear, we are confident that our streetcar project is one of the best projects in the country."

The Cincinnati Streetcar needs another $50 million in funding to become reality, and while the loss of any TIGER funds hurt, it was not a devastating blow.  Cincinnati has already applied for an additional $50 million in Transportation Review & Advisory Council (TRAC) grant money from the State of Ohio, and $25 million in Urban Circulator grant money from the federal government.

"Today's announcement does not hurt the viability of our streetcar project," said Cincinnati City Manager Milton Dohoney.  "The Mayor and I have experience in these types of federal processes, and that is why we did not put all of our eggs in one funding basket."

In addition to the TRAC and Urban Circulator money, the Cincinnati Streetcar is also positioned to receive funding from another grant program similar to the TIGER grants, being referred to as TIGER II, later this year.  Streetcar supporters also claim that the project could take advantage of the Federal Transit Administration's Small and New Starts programs.

"Cincinnati has received positive feedback over the past year from members of Congress and White House staff about our project and its benefits to our city," said Dohoney.  "We continue to believe that the streetcar project is a game-changing project for Cincinnati that will lead to new businesses and job creation."

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by David De Bol
Stay connected by following Randy on Twitter @UrbanCincy
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