Sunday, February 28, 2010

Neighborhood Summit

The Cincinnati Neighborhood Summit was held yesterday at Xavier University and I was extremely glad to attend. This year the summit was focused on the City's Comprehensive Plan and sought citizen feedback on specific goals and action steps. I participated in discussion groups on Housing and Neighborhood Development, Transit and Transportation, and Economic Development and Business Retention. More to come on my experiences there.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Area Projects

There is an article in the Enquirer today on the numerous requests being heard by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber for funds from the state budget to be passed this spring or summer. Requests include, but are not limited to Music Hall renovation, streetcars, Union Terminal restoration, and Zoo expansion. It will be interesting to see how much Hamilton County is able to get from the state considering the current fiscal crisis.

Museum Center

Nice to see the Museum Center getting recognized for their great work: 2009 National Medal for Museum and Library Service

Streetcar: One and Done?

Second, a week ago today Cincinnati learned that it would receive no stimulus funds for the proposed Cincinnati streetcar system. The stimulus bill made $1.5 billion available for transit projects and Cincinnati was expecting at least half of the initial $128 million for the project. While city leaders are still hoping to move the project forward, it appears that at least for the time being Cincinnati will not have a streetcar.

As a student at UC I welcomed the idea of an easy and affordable route downtown but I couldn't see the point of a streetcar simply going around Over-the-Rhine. Furthermore, multimillion dollar budget deficits have brought into question whether or not the city would have been able to pay for their part of the project. I have to say though, I am disappointed that Cincinnati was not able to secure federal funding when so many other cities did. As one of my professors astutely pointed out, at this point any money being spent downtown is a worthwhile endeavor.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Union Terminal and the 3-C Rail

While I was away at CPAC last week, there were several important issues reported on in Cincinnati that I want to go back and highlight.

First, Ohio was awarded $400 million for the development of the 3-C train system (Cincinnati-Columbus-Cleveland). State officials are pushing to start construction as soon as possible and expect to begin operations in 2012. The relatively short timetable poses some problems for Cincinnati in particular. Naturally, most Cincinnatians feel that Union Terminal should be the permanent station for the 3-C train. However, since the Union Terminal ranks as one of the worst freight bottlenecks in the nation, most public officials feel that there is neither the money nor the time to make Union Terminal the station by 2012. This has prompted calls for a temporary station with Lunken Airport being a widely supported option. As the Enquirer reported though, some politicians, such as Councilman Chris Bortz, are calling for more time and energy to be put towards getting Union Terminal operational for 2012 or at least situating the temporary station on the eastern side of Cincinnati and I wholly agree.

Imagine riding the 3-C train from Columbus to Cincinnati. You get off and look around. What do you see? Nothing. Where is this city called Cincinnati? More importantly, how do I get there from here? Lunken is not a viable temporary station because the location is not ideal. Travelers who get off the train expecting to be in downtown Cincinnati will be sorely disappointed when they look around and see wide open fields, houses, and runways. Furthermore, METRO would certainly have to re-route more buses to this train station and travelers would be forced to either take the 20-30 minute bus ride or get a taxi.

On the other hand, consider Union Terminal. Passengers will get off the train and be met with the awe of not only Cincinnati's skyline but the beautiful architecture of Union Terminal as well the wonderful exhibits of the Museum Center. Of course METRO would still be needed to provide some transportation from Union Terminal to Fountain Square, the Banks, and other downtown locations but the trip would be significantly shorter.

The City should do everything in its power to make Union Terminal the temporary and permanent station in Cincinnati and they need to act fast. We cannot afford to wait around and risk Sharonville being the closest station to downtown Cincinnati. Sharonville is planning a $4.7 million investment for their station and Cincinnati needs to be willing to do the same. With the budget so tight, politicians and bureaucrats will need to be creative in budgeting money to make more passenger travel out of Union Terminal feasible. If the City fails to come together across agencies and organizations with concrete plans and goals we risk the future urban vitality of our great city.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Opening of Cincinnati Adventures

Cincinnati Adventures is a blog dedicated to the adventures of a student at the University of Cincinnati discovering the deep history, culture, and character of Cincinnati. Cincinnati is a case study in the changing nature of post-industrial American cities. From revitalization to economic development to transportation, Cincinnati is a city with the potential to become a center of urbanist revival. With a low cost of living, historic neighborhoods and architecture, established arts, and ample parks, Cincinnati is an attractive option for people of all backgrounds, races, and creeds. From politics to economics there are many policies and factors that contribute to the vitality of Cincinnati and this blog is dedicated to exploring and analyzing those factors. In the short term the blog will be dedicating to transportation and transit in Cincinnati for one of my class at UC. I will be offering critical analysis of transit projects in Cincinnati and advocating for new ideas and solutions.