Jeramey Jannene

Keep the Milwaukee Streetcar Moving Forward

By - Jul 8th, 2011 01:40 pm
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Milwaukee Streetcar Route Extensions

Milwaukee Streetcar Route Extensions

The Milwaukee Streetcar is projected to go before the Steering & Rules Committee of the Milwaukee Common Council next week. If the project is able to pass the Steering & Rules Committee it is widely believed that it will pass the Common Council as a whole. However, passage by the Steering & Rules Committee is far from a sure thing, and now is a critical time to make your voice heard so that the project can move forward.

The next meeting of the committee is scheduled for July 14th, 2:30 p.m. at Milwaukee City Hall in Room 301-B. The committee, which is made up of the Council President and the chairs of the other standing committees, includes President Hines, Jr. as well as Representatives Bauman, Bohl, Davis, Donovan, Hamilton, Murphy, and Witkowiak.

A public information open house is being held Monday, July 11th, at the Milwaukee Public Market from 4 to 6 p.m. for the community to review and comment on the Milwaukee Streetcar. According to the event flyer “information will be available on economic development, route, technology, costs and financing, impacts, timeline, and more.”

Previously we asked that you contact your Common Council representative via a form on our last article, and we had a fantastic response rate, but this time we want to let the entire Common Council and Mayor hear our support for getting the Milwaukee Streetcar in the ground.

Please take a moment to fill out the form below to let the Common Council and Mayor know your feelings on the streetcar project, even if you filled out the form last time.

More about the Milwaukee Streetcar

For more information on project details, how the operator will be selected, what the vehicles will be like, and possible extensions, see our extensive past coverage.

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31 thoughts on “Keep the Milwaukee Streetcar Moving Forward”

  1. Gary says:

    Thanks, I just submitted it… I’m excited and hoping this can clear this one last hurdle!

    As far as the committee goes, what happens, out of curiosity, if there is a tie?

  2. Chris says:

    nice work guys. I hope Milwaukee does the right thing. If not, I look forward to spearheading serious recall efforts against alderman interested in nothing more than their personal agendas.

  3. Jeffrey Jordan says:

    This project is vital for more than the obvious reasons of economic’s and transportation. It’s vital that Milwaukee stands up for itself in this era of non-support from Madison. We can expect no help on our mission of progress from a hostile legislature and a governor who has no concern for us or our future.
    This project says to the rest of the state.we will proceed with you or without you. We will continue to act and lead in the mission of bringing Wisconsin into the 21 Century. Not only do we have to shepard this project forward, but we must think and act on others

  4. Dave Reid says:

    @Gary Good question, unfortunately I’m really unsure.

  5. Nic Waldron says:

    (here’s my comment to the common council)

    I have recently returned to Milwaukee to finish my bachelor’s at UWM, but the chances I will remain in the city after graduation are very slim and one of the main reasons for that is Milwaukee’s lack of adequate modern public transportation. Based on my experience, this is one of the biggest factors the brain drain that has plagued Milwaukee as many college graduates who are just starting out find owning a vehicle to be an impractical economic burden and are thus, drawn to other cities that have public transportation which accommodates their needs. This has far reaching implications as Milwaukee has one of the lowest percentages of college graduates in the country, which relates directly to the stagnant economic and cultural growth in a city with so much unrealized potential. While there are plenty of other valid reasons why light rail in Milwaukee makes sense, this is one that rarely (if ever) gets brought up and never seems to be considered by those who balk at the cost on light rail on supposed economic grounds.

  6. Fabal D'louieu says:

    Make it happen! And if you haven’t already done so, share this page on facebook etc!

  7. Dave Reid says:

    @Fabal If you would share on your facebook that would help… We’ve been all over it!

  8. Dan says:

    Why “far from a sure thing?” What are the possible sticking points?

  9. Dave Reid says:

    @Dan as you know nothing in Milwaukee is a sure thing..

  10. Larry LeBlanc says:

    It seems to me that this project is vitally important to the future of Milwaukee. We need innovative and bold thinking about ways to revitalize the city, and this project goes a long way in that direction. It should be especially helpful in revitalizing downtown Milwaukee and could possibly generate lots of development projects including more downtown housing. Go for it.

  11. Dan says:

    I wouldn’t say that nothing is, but in politics probably true.

  12. Gary says:

    I went to the open house yesterday… very cool, there were lots of people there, and most seemed quite positive about it. One of the staffers told me the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

    I asked a couple of questions that ended up stumping almost everybody there. I ended up speaking to the city engineer, Jeff Polenske, who was there of course. One of the answers is good news, the other is potentially bad news. The questions and the answers:

    (1) What happens if the Steering Committee ties on a 4-4 vote? Answer: The measure fails.
    (2) Theoretically, could Scott Walker block the streetcar even after it gets the green light from everybody due to the fact that it runs concurrently with WIS 32, a state trunkline? Answer: No, for some complicated reasons, but absolutely no.

    Number 2 is very reassuring. As for number 1, the steering committee now needs 5 votes in favor. Three of the alderman who have sponsored the resolution are also on the committee. Surprisingly, Council President Hines was not one of the sponsors, even though he is a strong supporter of transit. I asked one of the staffers about this, and was told he was “on the fence”… possibly waiting for the results of the open house responses (which have been positive, so that’s good!) I did notice that a couple of other alderman who are on the committee — who are not sponsors — did support the resolution in support of the Madison extension of the Hiawatha earlier this year.

    One last thing, and this is important… Several of the staffers said that it’s important that this be presented as an issue that the *whole* city should get to decide. If you decide to make any comments Thursday, be sure to include that — this is not a vote on the streetcar, rather, a vote on whether the streetcar should get to be considered by the whole city. And of course it should!

  13. Dave Reid says:

    @Gary Yup #1 is what we need to the emails to insure doesn’t happen! So please keep getting the word out. thanks

  14. Ben says:

    Thank you for posting these updates and forms. I rely on this site for all noteworthy news on urban development.

  15. Dave Reid says:

    @Ben thanks. will do.

  16. Paul Gibler says:

    I just submitted the form letting the alders know that my partner and I had bought a 2nd home condo in Milwaukee and are looking forward to connecting through the Badger Bus and the Milwaukee streetcar to that home.
    Paul

  17. getch says:

    It will be interesting to see what changes take place on the route if any on the additional costs proposed by ATT and WE Energies. I do not understand how that could be overlooked during planning?

  18. Pesterson Von Grau says:

    Guys, the goon squad is tearing this apart on JSOnline today. It doesn’t look good. Note what happend to the Madison rail extension and remember how tenuous these things if they’re not marketed EXACTLY right.

    Supporters of the streetcar need to emphasize the following OVER AND OVER as often as possible every time you encounter a member of the goon squad, especially online.

    1) This is a starter system that will eventually get out to UWM, Marquette, Miller Part etc…
    2) Extensions will be less costly
    3) Portland and Mpls prove that development $$$ pours in -GREATER than the amount spent and much greater than the amount the city spends in operating costs
    4) This thing plows through snow like butter
    5) Streetcars are better than busses – they are faster, more efficient, cheaper to run, a lot more comfy
    6) This is an INVESTMENT. As Amtrak is ultimately upgraded, as commuter and Madison rail arrives, this will get more and more popular
    7) This does not hurt the bus system, it HELPs the bus system by connecting more riders.
    8) Do you lik $6 a gallon gas? It’s close than you think.

    Hell, just copy and paste the above, plus anything you want to add….

  19. Gary says:

    I could be wrong, but after the results of tonight, this appears to be close to a sure thing! Assuming that all of the people who voted for it tonight and all of the legislation’s sponsors vote for it in the Council, this will pass by at least 8-7.

    Of course, there are still ongoing issues especially related to utilities, so it’s important that we continue our support when this comes up for the full vote!

  20. Dave Reid says:

    @Peterson Von Grau well said.

  21. Dave Reid says:

    @Gary Yes we need to keep up the support. And yes the utilities issues need to be resolved… And yes right now it appears to me that have the votes, but support is needed to hold it together.

  22. Pesterson Von Grau says:

    Although, if you read the comments on JSONline…. this thing is going to be spit on and kicked before it even gets built. I’ve never seen such a hostile crowd.

    This also means that it has to work flawlessly. If it so much as hits a bump, someone will try to kill it the first chance they have.

    The worst case scenario is the “Detroit People Mover” – a system so useless sometimes I wonder if it was created specifically so that the “boondoggle” crowd could laugh at it and justify their hatred elsewhere.

    My take – I genuinely wonder if spending this money in this manner is the best way to go…. but as an optimist and streetcar fan I’ll support it for what it’s worth!

  23. Dave Reid says:

    @Pesterson I find it best to avoid the jsonline comments…

  24. Jesse Hagen says:

    I’ve heard and looked at the route of the Detroit people mover before… Milwaukee would’ve shared the same fate if the route was just a circle around Downtown.

    If Milwaukee can get this started and prove to the Feds we’re serious about getting this project built… I think we have a strong chance to land Tiger 3 grants.

    Beyond the expansions to the Pabst complex and Brady… this line needs to get to UWM. That will really start to charge development and you’ll have the wider community asking how to get it extended to Miller Park/Medical College/Airport.

  25. Chris says:

    Just remember who the JS Online naysayers are — crabby, middle-aged men from Waukesha, Ozaukee, and other surrounding counties. The same people that rarely step foot downtown, get all their city news from the 10pm local newscasts, and routinely assume the city is a hellhole. Don’t let them get you down. Yesterday’s overwhelmingly positive testimony from people that matter in the city made me more optimistic than ever. This IS going to happen.

  26. Dave Reid says:

    @Chris Thanks… moving forward!

  27. Gary says:

    Great point Chris, I was thinking the same thing. The council members are highly unlikely to read the JS cesspool to begin with, and even if they did, they have no idea who among them are their constituents (and it’s not too many of them). Yesterday, when they did hear from their constituents, the response was overwhelmingly positive. Although I will admit that the two individuals against it gave very entertaining addresses.

    However, if they really get to you, you could try pasting this link in response to the “gas tax hawkers” — those who insist on the falsehood that all or even most of user fees pay for the highways (while implying that rail pays less, which is actually the other way around!). http://subsidyscope.org/transportation/highways/funding/

    I wouldn’t hold my breathebon an intelligent response though.

  28. Eric says:

    I just sent me Alderperson (Kovac) a follow up “Thank you for supporting the Streetcar” message.

    It’s not a bad idea to remind them that, not only as an “ataboy,” but also a reminder that you are watching to see that they follow through on this plan.

  29. Dave Reid says:

    @Eric Agreed.. I intend to email a bunch of them individually..

  30. Dan says:

    @Gary — Inside city hall, the jsonline comments may have more obsessed readers than anywhere else. The PR folks there take it very very seriously, just as they’ve always followed the talk radio stuff religiously. That is the public sphere the public provides in the area.

    Why not just turn away — well it’s their job to pay attention to some extent. It’s also some complex psychology at work because so few people look away and there is so much neverending talk about the comments. It’s probably part narcissism to look at how you’re impacting people, part entertainment, partly the fascination of watching a trainwreck.

    Fortunately nobody’s jumped off a rotunda railing yet.

  31. Pesterson Von Grau says:

    I wish someone would write an editorial directed at some of those commenters on JSOnline. Not to be smug, but legitimately educational. Some would still lose their mind, but it might make sensible people think a little. These people vote, don’t forget!

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