Council Okays Streetcar to Bucks Arena
$40 million extension would add .75 miles to route, also connect convention center.
The Milwaukee Streetcar is about to get longer, should the federal government award it a $20 million grant. Following a 11-4 vote by the Milwaukee Common Council, a nearly one-mile extension of the Milwaukee Streetcar has been approved that would connect the route with the new Milwaukee Bucks arena. The extension would also serve as a starting point for connecting the streetcar with Bronzeville and other neighborhoods to the north of Downtown.
The new project would extend the streetcar three-fourths of a mile north, running from the route’s current western terminus at the Milwaukee Intermodal Station at W. St. Paul Ave. and then up N. 4th St. to the new Bucks arena and Live Block at N. 4th St. and W. Juneau Ave. The stop would be partially located in the portion of N. 4th St. that will be permanently closed to traffic as part of the arena project.
The planned line would connect not only the new arena to the system, but would also include a stop at the Wisconsin Center convention center in a new public plaza. That plaza would be created as part of a new development in the surface parking lot at N. 4th St. and W. Wisconsin Ave. The city recently issued a request-for-proposals for the land. A future stop is also planned at the intersection of W. Kilbourn Ave and N. 4th St.
If all goes according to plan, service would begin on the extension in the spring or summer of 2020. Construction on the extension would start following the fall 2017 completion of the final design of the extension.
The extension will look and operate substantially different than the system’s first two phases. Much of the route will be in a dedicated lane on N. 4th St., instead of running with mixed traffic. In addition, a substantial portion of the extension will be built without overhead wires for power. The Brookville-manufactured vehicles can accommodate operating on batteries for portions of the route (they get recharged by wires at the stations) and the city intends to make use of that technology to lower construction costs.
The first phase of the system, connecting the Lower East Side, East Town and Historic Third Ward with the Milwaukee Intermodal Station, is on-track to begin service in 2018. Utility work on the route is currently underway. Construction of the track is set to begin in the coming weeks. Work will occur in phases across the 2.1 mile route.
Concurrently underway is work on the streetcar’s lakefront extension. That spur, approved and fully-funded, will add four-tenths of a mile to the route split across E. Michigan St. and E. Clybourn St. That extension will run from N. Milwaukee St. to the base of the planned The Couture tower at N. Lincoln Memorial Dr. The lakefront extension is anticipated to open after the first phase of the streetcar opens.
Extension Renderings and Maps
- Guideway and Track Elements – $3.4 million
- Stations, Stops and Terminal – $0.5 million
- Sitework and Special Conditions – $14.7 million
- Systems – $3.3 million
- Vehicles – $4.5 million
- Professional Services – $3.5 million
- Contingency – $7.2 million
- Escalation to 2020 Dollars (inflation) – $2.8 million
- Total – $39.9 million
Extension Funding Sources
- Federal – TIGER grant – $20 million
- Local – TID 39 Amendment (Hilton City Center) – $4 million
- Local – TID 41 Amendment (Time Warner Cable/Manpower) – $8 million
- Local – TID 88 Creation (4th/Wisconsin) – $8 million
- Total – $40 million
What’s Next for the Milwaukee Streetcar?
During his stump speeches for the streetcar, Mayor Tom Barrett repeatedly said his goal was to get the first phase in the ground and immediately start working to extend it. His administration has done just that. The initial project approval came with an lakefront extension. Now they’ve secured approval, pending a federal grant, to extend the streetcar to the north. What’s next?
A major extension is in conceptual planning stages to extend the system north into Bronzeville and south into Walker’s Point. The three-and-a-half mile route, which would utilize the N. 4th Street extension, would run from W. North Ave. and N. Dr. Martin Luther King Dr. to S. 1st St. and Greenfield Ave. That extension would roughly double the size of the system.
Should the city fail to receive the federal grant, the city would continue to design the extension using the tax-incremental financing funds.
Streetcar Not As Controversial Anymore?
Observers of the original approval process for the system will remember how many procedural moves were used to attempt to block the system. Those moves, which ultimately caused months of delay, were nowhere to be found today. In a simple up-down vote, council members Robert Donovan, Mark Borkowski, Jim Bohl and Tony Zielinski voted against the project.
Only Borkowski spoke against the matter, perhaps because he wasn’t on the council for the previous battles. Borkowski lamented that “the discussion of whether or not the streetcar will happen, that ship has sailed.” Warning that Milwaukee was becoming a tale of two cities, Borkowski went on to ask: “where is the help, where is the assistance, where is the cooperation for the rest of the city? I’m told that with this development the rest of the city will see benefits. Well I’m not sure of that. But if it does happen, when will it happen? I think it’s dangerous to put all our eggs in one basket, if you will, and realize that we have other, greater challenges in the city as a whole beyond just the downtown. I challenge all of us, the Mayor and all of us Common Council members to remember that the city of Milwaukee is a large city and not just downtown.”
Urban Milwaukee Streetcar Coverage
- $6.5 Million in Streetcar Savings – Jeramey Jannene – February 26th, 2016
- 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