Mayor Tom Barrett
Press Release

Statement from Mayor Tom Barrett Concerning the Public Service Commission Ruling on the Milwaukee Streetcar Project

We agree with comments made by two of the three Public Service Commission (PSC) members that the Streetcar project is an exercise of the City’s police power, and that it is a benefit to the public’s health, safety and welfare.

By - Sep 27th, 2012 03:07 pm

We agree with comments made by two of the three Public Service Commission (PSC) members that the Streetcar project is an exercise of the City’s police power, and that it is a benefit to the public’s health, safety and welfare.

We are concerned PSC Commissioner Ellen Nowak has not recused herself from voting on this issue. Ms. Nowak and the petitioner in this case, Brett Healy, are long-time acquaintances and former colleagues. Both worked for former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen and School Choice Wisconsin. The only way for the PSC to be impartial and afford itself the opportunity to issue a non-prejudicial ruling is to have Commissioner Nowak recuse herself.

The PSC’s decision to hold this issue over until further design can be completed, and more detailed cost estimates can be established, gives the City and the utilities the opportunity to continue to cooperatively work towards minimizing any impacts while bringing a much-needed transit improvement and economic development tool to Milwaukee.

The City expects to hire a final design consultant before the end of the year at which time a more in-depth utility coordination effort will begin. In an effort to avoid some significant private utility facilities within Broadway, the City has already proposed modifications to the route which are consistent with its continued commitment to reduce utility impacts. It has become clear the utility relocation costs will be kept to a minimum – nowhere near the exaggerated costs opponents of the modern streetcar claim. Furthermore, the City expects to have developed the streetcar project to a 60% design by early summer of 2013 at which time more detailed information will be know about the actual utility impacts.

Notwithstanding the grandstanding by streetcar opponents, legally, the millions of dollars in federal money allocated for the modern streetcar cannot be applied to any other Wisconsin transportation project or budget.

If it is not invested in Milwaukee’s modern streetcar, it will be lost.

For the workers who will earn wages from the construction and operation of the streetcar, for the people who will ride the streetcar, and for the entire community that will see economic gains once the streetcar is operating, we are moving forward with the project.

Aldermen Nik Kovac and Willie Wade also support this statement.

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