Mayor of Columbus Desires $103 Million Streetcar Line

Tue April 08, 2008 - Midwest Edition

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) A proposed $103 million streetcar line running through city neighborhoods would be paid for with a 4 percent surcharge on concert tickets, sporting events and downtown parking, Mayor Michael Coleman said.

The nearly 3-mi. (4.8 km) streetcar route would spur economic development in the area and could serve as the first step toward a wider commuter rail system for central Ohio, Coleman said in announcing the financing plan March 27.

An electric-powered streetcar system would require officials to lay track, buy the streetcars, run electric lines, add stops and create a maintenance center. Construction would start in 2010 with passenger service to begin two years later. The average fare would be $1.

The mayor’s plan assumes the surcharge would raise $6.9 million each year for 25 years to cover the overall cost, plus interest. The system also would cost $4.5 million a year to operate.

Ohio State University will contribute $12.5 million toward construction, president E. Gordon Gee said. Students likely would ride free or at a discount.

Ty Marsh, president of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce, said business owners generally support the streetcar concept.