Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

The Milwaukee Streetcar is Hiring

The contractor needs workers and city residents get preference.

By - Jan 20th, 2017 11:30 am
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A rendering of a Brookville streetcar in Milwaukee's Third Ward. Milwaukee's streetcars will be manufactured by U.S.-based Brookville Equipment Corp.

Rendering of streetcar in Third Ward. Milwaukee’s streetcars will be manufactured by U.S.-based Brookville Equipment Corp.

Want a job working on the railroad?

If so, the Milwaukee Streetcar is looking for you. As utility crews wrap up their work moving gas, sewer, water and electrical lines from the right-of-way, actual streetcar track construction will begin in the coming months. That will require lots of work, and construction manager Kiewet Infrastructure will be hiring lots of Milwaukeeans for the job.

As part of streetcar’s approval, its construction has a hiring goal that 40 percent of the project’s hours must be done by workers certified in the city’s Residents Preference Program (RPP). That program targets city residents who are under or unemployed and is in place on many active projects including the Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons and the Milwaukee Bucks’ new arena. Kiewet will also need to subcontract with a number of certified disadvantaged business enterprises (DBE) to achieve the 21 percent of project costs goal in that category.

Today’s meeting of the Joint Committee on Downtown Streetcar Implementation primarily centered around how to bring attention to an upcoming job fair for residents looking to work on the project. WRTP/BIG STEP will hold an information session next Thursday, January 26th at 8:00 a.m. at the non-profit’s offices at 3841 W. Wisconsin Ave. Those interested can learn about training opportunities and hiring information to work on the project. Advanced registration is required. More information is available from WRTP/BIG STEP.

Pushing for Kiewet to bring as much attention as possible to the event, Ald. Milele Coggs explained that in voting for the streetcar “part of the light at the end of the tunnel, aside from the obvious reasons, was the potential and possibility for people to get work. We need to insure that the outreach to the community casts as wide a net as possible.” She noted that even people who are opposed to the streetcar will likely change their tune if someone in their family gets a job working on the project.

Department of City Development commissioner Rocky Marcoux also noted the need to generate a buzz around project hiring and training. Alluding to other recent projects that have failed to meet their local hiring goals, the commissioner implored the project team to connect with the council members and area churches to spread the word about the opportunities from the start.

Next Thursday’s meeting is not mandatory and won’t be the last information session on project opportunities, but according to Kiewet streetcar project manager Michael Eithier people are strongly encouraged to attend.

The Milwaukee Streetcar is expected to begin operating in late 2018. The lakefront extension will begin operating shortly after the initial line from the Milwaukee Intermodal Station to the Lower East Side starts running. The city continues to pursue funding opportunities for a third phase which would extend the line via N. 4th St. to the convention center, new arena and Bronzeville.

City Hiring an Operator

On a separate track, the Concord Group, who serves as the city’s owner’s representative on the project, is gearing up to release a request-for-proposals (RFP) for operation of the streetcar by the end of the month. A Friday morning project update meeting included a back-and-forth between Department of Public Works commissioner Ghassan Korban, Marcoux and the Concord Group’s John Duggan which gave broad hints at to who the operator might be.

Korban told the committee “we certainly would like a national operator with a local workforce.” He followed that by stating “we don’t see this as an opportunity for a startup.” He noted that the city has already been approached by several qualified parties that have expressed interest in operating the system.

The statements by the commissioner seem to rule out the possibility that the bus-only Milwaukee County Transit System would win a bid to operate the system. It’s also unlikely that MCTS even bids to operate the system because of an amendment attached to the 2017 Milwaukee County budget by supervisor John Weishan that would require a county-wide referendum if the county is to engage with the streetcar.

The lack of a bid by MCTS doesn’t change the likely cooperation and fare interoperability between the two transit systems, but does suggest that a national, for-profit operator is likely to operate the streetcar system.

First Vehicle Expected in December

Streetcar vehicle manufacturer Brookville Equipment Corporation is expected to deliver the first vehicle in December. The Pennsylvania-based manufacturer was initially contracted to deliver four of their Liberty Modern Streetcars for $18.6 million, but the city is exercising an option to purchase an additional vehicle for the lakefront extension of the system.

Brookville will first manufacture vehicles for Dallas, Detroit and Oklahoma City, which Korban considers a plus for Milwaukee. Korban told other streetcar committee members that he expects the Milwaukee vehicles to be the best because Brookville will benefit from experience in building the earlier vehicles.

The Liberty vehicles are eight-feet, eight-inches wide and 66-feet long. The vehicles feature 32 seats and a total capacity of 150 passengers. They weigh 79,000 pounds when empty. The planned useful life of the vehicle is 30 years. The maximum speed is (currently) intentionally limited to 42 miles per hour.

The $18.6 million contract breaks down to $13.87 million for the vehicles, $3.79 million for support, approximately $400,000 for additional support and $546,426 for spare parts. Local firm Milwaukee Composites, which makes flooring components for mass transit vehicles, will provide the flooring for the vehicles. They are donating the floor system to Brookville and the streetcar project at no charge.

For more on the vehicles, see my November 2015 article on the selection of the vehicle provider.

Route and Expansion Plans

Urban Milwaukee Streetcar Coverage

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.

7 thoughts on “Eyes on Milwaukee: The Milwaukee Streetcar is Hiring”

  1. Given the state’s move to prevent the county government from participating in the city’s streetcar project, would MCTS even be eligible to apply?

  2. Jeramey Jannene says:

    @Ed – It was a county board, not state, decision to prevent the county from participating. My understanding is that there is some question of the legality of such a budget amendment.

  3. Roger says:

    The hole thing is a joke.
    I’m sick of paying for things that I don’t use.
    What is the final cost of this going to be????

  4. Ryan N says:

    @Roger
    We all pay for a lot of things we don’t use, it’s the price for living in a first world country (though we’re rapidly going away from that). In the end it’s being built, don’t want to pay for it? Move out of the city and just use a car.

  5. Fred says:

    “the likely cooperation and fare interoperability between the two transit systems”

    Has this issue been discussed somewhere, or is it just assumed? I’ve wondered about this (particularly whether MCTS commuter value passes will work), and so have been watching the articles, but don’t remember actually seeing any reporting or quotes on it.

  6. Gringo says:

    For Roger–

    I probably do not use the sidewalk or road near where you live, Why should I pay for something I don’t use?

    Get a dictionary and look up “whole” and “hole”. Did you drop out of school at third grade?

  7. Allen Wojtasik says:

    Hello, I am a dump truck driver. Where can I apply for work on this project? Please leave message via email address. I have over 20 yrs. experience. Thanks, Al

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