The $110 million streetcar project’s opening is being delayed by more than a full year — from spring 2014 to summer 2015.
Meg Olberding, city spokesperson, attributes the delay to “a number of scheduling issues.”
“There’s so many moving pieces,” she says. “There are issues with utility and we have to order the cars. We have to get a contractor on-board for the work. So we still have a couple of things that are taking longer than we thought.”
The delay, which was announced Sept. 10, is the latest in a history of plan and schedule changes for the Cincinnati streetcar, which saw $52 million pulled by Gov. John Kasich last year and forced the city to abandon its Uptown connector lines. Kasich, who has been against other Ohio rail projects, claimed the move was necessary to balance the 2012-2013 budget.
Today, a feud between the city and Duke Energy is causing more trouble. The city and utility company disagree over who should pay for moving utility lines to accommodate the streetcar. On Aug. 29, the city said it was considering a lawsuit to resolve the issue. Olberding says the conflict played a role in the delay.
“We need to resolve that quickly because, obviously, the longer we can’t get utility work done, it’ll cause delays and cost overruns,” she says.
Before the current spat, the city and Duke could not agree on how far manhole covers and utility lines should be from streetcar tracks. The city claimed the three to four feet was fine, but Duke disagreed, citing safety fears. CityBeat previously found the city’s standard was supported by experiences in other cities (“The Great Eight Debate,” issue of March 6). The city eventually won out, and manholes will only be required to be three to four feet from streetcar tracks.