The choice was simple: transfer old, unused federal rail funding to the Cincinnati Streetcar project or lose these dollars for the region.
This spring, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) informed the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) that $876,762 in rail-related grant funding awarded to SORTA in 1996 must be used soon or it would be forfeited.
The FTA agreed to allow SORTA to expend $608,484 of the funding for the Metro bus system. Rather than losing the balance of the grant, FTA suggested that SORTA transfer the remaining $268,278 to the Cincinnati Streetcar project, which is the only active rail project in the region.
No other SORTA or regional projects qualify for these funds; they would be forfeited if SORTA did not transfer them to the city’s streetcar project.
The SORTA Board approved the transfer of these funds to supplement the city of Cincinnati’s streetcar unallocated contingency fund.
“Our objective is to keep these federal funds in the Cincinnati region,” said SORTA Chairman Jason Dunn. “It was a use-it-or-lose-it proposition.”