No Agreement on Streetcar Extension
Mayor's press conference touts $160 million expansion plan. Delay could hurt city, he says.
Mayor Tom Barrett‘s proposal to extend the streetcar to Bronzeville, Fiserv Forum, the convention center and the northern edge of Walker’s Point hasn’t been derailed, but an agreement will need to be reached soon with the Common Council to keep an extension on track for July 2020.
Barrett unveiled a multi-phase proposal in early May to build an extension and new public plaza from the Milwaukee Intermodal Station to the Wisconsin Center by July 2020, an extension north via Fiserv Forum to W. North Ave. and N. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. and south via N. Milwaukee St. to S. 1st St. and W. Pittsburgh Ave, extending just into Walker’s Point.
But the Common Council put the proposal on hold last week.
Barrett, in a press conference Wednesday afternoon, called his $52 million plan “bold, yet fiscally responsible.”
The council’s Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee held the matter last week, and chair Khalif Rainey said a special meeting would have been called for Tuesday if a solution to a multitude of concerns was found.
That didn’t happen. Nor was it discussed at Wednesday’s Common Council meeting.
Council members Robert Bauman and Jose G. Perez have been critical of the plan, stating it does not go far enough south into Walker’s Point. But Department of City Development Commissioner Rocky Marcoux said the reason the plan does not go further south was partially at Perez’s request regarding the lack of a consensus on a route and the lack of tax-incremental financing districts from which to fund engineering and planning costs.
Ald. Russell W. Stamper, II has said he wants to see three funds created in conjunction with the streetcar extension. Stamper would like like to see funding of an anti-displacement fund, a job training fund and a central city business development fund. Stamper said a $6 million anti-displacement fund would prevent any displacement due to gentrification for the next 20 years.
“Yes, I’m using this for leverage for investment in the central city,” Stamper told Urban Milwaukee in an interview.
But Barrett Wednesday warned that a delay could impact the ability to construct the convention center extension and Vel R. Phillips Plaza in time for the July 2020 Democratic National Convention.
Administration officials told Urban Milwaukee that the biggest concern is the lead time required to order the supplies, chiefly the curved rails, to build the convention center expansion.
Why not just split it in two, with the bigger expansion and short extension as two different votes? The mayor told Urban Milwaukee his administration would have to talk to council members about that idea.
“I’m asking the council to take a vote on this and consider this so we can move forward,” said Barrett.
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For more project details, including the project timeline, financing, route and possible extensions, see our extensive past coverage.
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