$6.5 Million in Streetcar Savings
Agreement with We Energies reduces utility relocation costs.
Following over a year of negotiations with We Energies regarding utility relocation, the city and company have reached an agreement that includes $6.5 million in savings on the Milwaukee Streetcar project. We Energies has submitted an agreement to relocate all of their affected steam, gas and electric lines at a cost of $15 million. The city had originally budgeted $21.5 million for this work.
Will that result in a $6.5 million reduction in the city’s costs for the project? It’s “too early to say” according to Ashley Booth, planning and technical services director at HNTB. While the savings are “obviously a positive advancement” for the project, Booth said during a meeting of the Joint Committee on Downtown Streetcar Implementation, there are a lot of moving parts that could change things for a project up to three years from completion. HNTB is leading engineering work on the project for the city.
The agreement with We Energies only includes the first phase of the streetcar project, a 2.1 mile route that runs from the Milwaukee Intermodal Station to the Lower East Side. Relocation costs on the approved lakefont spur will have to wait, as the city is only at 30 percent engineering completion on that line. The budget for the lakefront spur is set at $29.2 million, including utility relocation. Utility costs are expected to be substantially less for the lakefront line due to the lack of current development in that area and the north-south alignment of the We Energies steam system.
The city intends to sign the agreement with We Energies in the coming weeks. Further agreements will be needed with additional private utilities, including AT&T, following route adjustments prior to the project’s final approval. Those costs are estimated at less than $2 million and are included in the existing project budget. In addition, work is substantially complete on the relocation of city-owned Milwaukee Water Works lines. That work is coming in at budget at a cost of approximately $1 million.
Should the savings ultimately materialize, the city would be the beneficiary. The federal government’s share of the first phase of the project is firmly committed at $54.9 million, with $14.2 million coming from an additional grant for the lakefront spur. The federal grant for the lakefront spur increased the project budget, as the city had conservatively estimated to only receive $10 million from Washington.
Through January, approximately $10 million out of the $128.1 million project budget has been spent.
Utility Lawsuit Impact
Seeking clarification around what he characterized as “lying”by others on the matter, alderman Robert Bauman asked Booth about any increase in project cost relating to the recent court ruling that the city is liable for any private utility relocation costs. Booth, ever cautious, wouldn’t say that others are “lying” but did say there was an impact of “zero dollars” on the project budget. Bauman was clearly referencing alderman and mayoral candidate Bob Donovan, who had claimed the ruling would increase costs. For more on this issue and the associated lawsuit, see my February 15th column.
Last News Before the Election
In a clever twist, the streetcar task force won’t meet again until after the April 5th election. The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Joint Committee on Downtown Streetcar Implementation was to be in two weeks, and the only big news expected by then is the notice that the city is soliciting bids on construction work. That means Mayor Tom Barrett‘s last major announcement regarding the Milwaukee Streetcar project will be a $6.5 million savings in private utility relocation.
- Maintenance facility: $7.5 million
- 4 Vehicles: $17.6 million
- Phase 1 route: $73.8 million
- Phase 2 route (Lakefront extension): $29.2 million
- Federal ISTEA funding : $54.9 million
- Federal TIGER grant: $14.2 million
- Cathedral Place #49 TIF: $9.7 million
- Erie/Jefferson Riverwalk TIF #56: $18.3 million
- East Michigan St. TIF #82: $31.0 million
A federal congestion mitigation and air quality grant will pay for 80 percent of the operating costs for the first 18 months, with a possible 18-month extension. Operating costs will be covered by farebox revenue, advertising, corporate sponsors and the parking fund. Operating costs are estimated at $2.65 million annually. Service on the first phase of the system is on-track to begin in early 2018.
Urban Milwaukee Streetcar Coverage
- Donovan Lies About Streetcar Suit – Jeramey Jannene – February 15th, 2016
- BID Sells Streetcar-Related Development – Jeramey Jannene – January 15th, 2016
- Pennsylvania Company Wins Streetcar Contract – Jeramey Jannene – November 13th, 2015
- City Accepts $14 Million Federal Streetcar Grant – Michael Horne – October 29th, 2015
- Anti-Streetcar Petition Dies – Bruce Murphy – August 28th, 2015
- Scott Walker Aids Milwaukee Streetcar – Jeramey Jannene – July 13th, 2015
- Streetcar Construction Starts in October – Jeramey Jannene – July 10th, 2015
- The Strange Politics of Anti-Streetcar-ites – Bruce Murphy – June 18th, 2015
- Anti-Streetcar Petition Drive Fails – Bruce Murphy – March 5th, 2015
- Streetcar Signing Is Quite a Celebration – Michael Horne – February 13th, 2015
- Milwaukee Streetcar Approved – Jeramey Jannene – February 10th, 2015
- Who’s Lobbying for the Streetcar – Bruce Murphy – February 5th, 2015
- Will Streetcar Help the Inner City? – Bruce Thompson – February 4th, 2015
- City Attorney Says Streetcar Petitions Might be Moot – Bruce Murphy – January 30th, 2015
- Millennials And The Streetcar – Bruce Thompson – January 27th, 2015
- Streetcar Responses Show Wide Support – Jeramey Jannene – January 22nd, 2015
- Streetcar Approved, but Held – Jeramey Jannene – January 21st, 2015
- Koch-Funded Group Backs Anti-Streetcar Drive – Bruce Murphy – January 20th, 2015
- Streetcar Backers Say They Have the Votes – Jeramey Jannene – January 20th, 2015
- Who is Funding the Anti-Streetcar Effort? – Bruce Murphy – January 20th, 2015
- Will Anti-Streetcar Referendum Succeed? – Bruce Murphy – January 9th, 2015
- The Story Behind the Streetcar Referendum – Michael Horne and Bruce Murphy – January 8th, 2015
- Council Delays Streetcar Until January – Jeramey Jannene – December 16th, 2014
- Committee Takes No Action on Streetcar – Jeramey Jannene – December 10th, 2014
- Committee Approves Milwaukee Streetcar – Jeramey Jannene – December 9th, 2014
- RACM Approves Tax Funding for Streetcar – Michael Horne – December 8th, 2014
- How to Sell the Streetcar – Michael Horne – November 28th, 2014
- Next Stops for the Streetcar – Michael Horne – November 24th, 2014
- Barrett Moving Forward with Streetcar – Jeramey Jannene – November 18th, 2014
- Who Will Be Streetcar Operator – Michael Horne – May 8th, 2014
- A Streetcar Named Cooperation? – Dave Reid – April 27th, 2014
- How a Streetcar Spurs Development – Angie Schmitt – November 3rd, 2013
- Streetcar Social – Michael Horne – September 12th, 2013
- Mayor Says Streetcar is a “Trojan Horse” – Michael Horne – April 17th, 2013
- Whoops, We Changed Our Mind – Dave Reid – September 27th, 2012
- Battle of the Bobs: Donovan vs Bauman Streetcar Press Conference – Jeramey Jannene – May 18th, 2012
- Important Hoan Bridge and Milwaukee Streetcar Meetings This Week – Dave Reid – November 14th, 2011
- Milwaukee Streetcar Passes Common Council – Jeramey Jannene – July 26th, 2011
- Keep the Milwaukee Streetcar Moving Forward – Jeramey Jannene – July 8th, 2011
- Milwaukee Streetcar at Apex – Jeramey Jannene – June 16th, 2011
- Milwaukee Streetcar Takes Key Step Forward – Jeramey Jannene – May 6th, 2010
- Milwaukee Streetcar Meeting This Thursday – Jeramey Jannene – October 5th, 2009
- Milwaukee Streetcar Routes Unveiled by Mayor Barrett – Jeramey Jannene – September 21st, 2009
- Milwaukee Streetcar Round-Up – Jeramey Jannene – April 19th, 2009
- Vote for your Favorite Milwaukee Streetcar Route – Jeramey Jannene – March 25th, 2009
- Design Your Own Streetcar Route – Jeramey Jannene – March 23rd, 2009
- Streetcars Coming to Milwaukee – Dave Reid – March 14th, 2009