It's no wonder why city leaders in Cincinnati are moving forward on further study of a plan to build a downtown streetcar system. Investment in a 3.9 mile route with 18 stops, six vehicles, and a maintenance barn is projected to cost approximately $102 million dollars. But the return on that investment is estimated at more than $1.4 billion.
That could help the city wipe out a multi-million dollar budget deficit, and rekindle the mentality that Cincinnati can be great again, according to City Architect Michael Moore.
"The inertia that we first have to overcome is the attitude that we can't pull off a big project," Mr. Moore said recently about a proposed route that could link together the central city, a university campus, and historic districts. "We've never ever attempted anything like this. Our goal is to bring people to a vibrant downtown area."
Randy Simes, a student at the University of Cincinnati, said civic leaders are on the right track.
"As a creative person, it can be difficult to make it work [in Cincinnati] over a place like Chicago, New York or Atlanta." Mr. Simes wrote in a recent editorial. "We need to continue to prioritize the arts and place new emphasis on things like mass transit. This is a very important issue to many young people and in particular the creative class. If we fail at creating a city with these elements, then we will fail at attracting that ever-important young professional."
As for footing a $102 million transit bill while Cincinnati stares down a $29 million shortfall, Chris Bortz, a member of the city's economic development committee, told the local Fox affiliate: "If we continue to cut, cut, cut, cut, cut, the city will continue to decline."