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Future of Cincinnati Streetcar Gets Brighter
CINCINNATI (Angenette Levy) -- Mayor John Cranley plans a major announcement about the city's operating budget and the streetcar project at a press conference Thursday morning.
Local 12 News has learned from sources that a private organization has offered to underwrite the operating costs of the streetcar for 30 years which could help the city's budget if the project is completed.
The announcement comes as streetcar supporters fanned out across the city to collect signatures to place a streetcar charter amendment on the ballot.
Northside business owner Laura Chenault set up a table to collect signatures at Northside Tavern Wednesday night. Chenault said she wasn't always a streetcar supporter but she is now.
"We have spent taxpayer dollars on this and the idea of us wasting all of that money for nothing and nothing to show for it and also to lose credibility with the federal government and have all those funds revoked is ludicrous," Chenault said.
The Federal Transit Administration has pledged nearly $45 million in funding to the streetcar. That money is on hold until December 19. The FTA could take the money back if the city decides to cancel the streetcar.
Streetcar supporters only need to collect 5,700 signatures to place a charter amendment on the ballot. They plan to collect 12,000 signatures by Saturday in an effort to show the FTA there is a lot of support for the project in Cincinnati.
The charter amendment would be placed on the May 2013 ballot if enough valid signatures are collected.
"Personally, I've been a part of a number of circulating petition drives or movements or whatever you want to call them and I've never been a part of one that's been so seamless or simple," said Mike Moroski, a streetcar advocate and former city council candidate.
Moroski collected signatures all day Wednesday and set up a table to collect more that evening at Awakenings in Hyde Park Square.
Many who signed the streetcar petition did not want to appear on television or be interviewed. Others said they were proud to sign it.
"I live in Madisonville and you know I'll probably never live or work downtown but I think it was an important project to start with and for sure it's now an important project to finish we're so far into it," said Josh Wagoner.
Local 12 News will have Mayor Cranley's press conference covered. Members of the unions representing city employees, police and firefighters will attend along with city council member Kevin Flynn.
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