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Transportation

How Cincinnati's Pro-Streetcar Campaigners Won in the End

Ryan Messer and his grassroots group Believe in Cincinnati never took no for an answer.
Work continues on the Cincinnati streetcar, shown here on Elm Street in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood.
Work continues on the Cincinnati streetcar, shown here on Elm Street in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. Al Behrman/AP

Before last fall's municipal election, Ryan Messer's engagement in local politics amounted to little more than a seat on the board of the Cincinnati Opera. A few months later he was taking a phone call from Peter Rogoff, who was then head of the Federal Transit Administration.

"He was calling to ask very specifically, 'What do the people of Cincinnati want?'" Messer recalls. "That was a very interesting moment."