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Streetcars Are Recommended To Columbus Mayor

After several months of discussion and research, the Columbus Downtown Streetcar Working Group said Monday such a system is feasible and desirable for the downtown community.

The streetcar working group favored a streetcar line running along High Street from German Village to the Short North. It also has the smallest price tag. To build a line from Frankfurt Street to Buttles Avenue would cost more than $75 million. Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman likely will present the working group's findings to the city council in the spring.

"I do think this will make a difference in our community. But the next question is going to be how do we pay for it?" Coleman stated.

Coleman presented the idea of a streetcar line earlier this year in his state of the city address. And he said there will not be a city-wide tax increase to fund it. The working group came up with a list of possible sources of money. That list included: the federal department of commerce, state capital funds or private contributions. Councilwoman Mary Ellen O'Shaughnessy, who supports a streetcar line, said before there's a discussion about capital investment, the rest of the city council has to see the recommendations.

"There's a healthy amount of skepticism there. As I said there's a tremendous amount of strain on our capital budget. And we're going to have to do a lot of work to be able to get to yes," O'Shaughnessy said.

The working group's research shows operating a streetcar line from German Village to the Short North would cost nearly $5 million per year. But the group estimates that a streetcar line would generate upwards of $250 million in economic benefits. Those would include the creation of 3,000 new jobs, 300 new hotel rooms and the addition of some 1,500 residential units in the downtown area.