Graham Kilmer

MCTS Selects BRT Construction Contractor

The transit system is executing a contract with Zenith Tech, a firm based in Waukesha.

By - Apr 29th, 2021 07:12 pm
Rendering of Milwaukee County Bus Rapid Transit.

Rendering of Milwaukee County Bus Rapid Transit.

The Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) has selected a construction contractor for the $55 million Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line that will run from downtown Milwaukee to Wauwatosa.

Zenith Tech, a construction contractor based in Waukesha, has been selected after submitting the lowest bid for the project at $15.2 million, according to the transit system. Zenith Tech is part of Walbec Group, a construction and engineering conglomerate. Zenith Tech is a heavy civil construction company. It recently won a $57.6 million contract for a bridge replacement on Interstate 43, according to the Daily Reporter,

The BRT project, once finished, will be a 9-mile bus line running from downtown Milwaukee along W. Wisconsin Avenue and W. Bluemound Road out to the Milwaukee County Regional Medical Center in Wauwatosa. It will have a dedicated bus lane, high-frequency service, traffic signal priority and off-bus fare collection. It will also be the first bus route to operate the county’s first Battery Electric Buses.

The transit system is still working to execute a contract with Zenith Tech, said Matt Sliker, a spokesperson for the transit system. The transit system is planning to begin construction on the project by late May or early June, and it’s expected construction will run until Fall of 2022.

The transit system is still accepting bids for the off-bus, cloud-based fare collection system, Sliker said. MCTS will continue to accept proposals for the system until May 21st.

The BRT project is the first of its kind in Milwaukee County. The transit system has been working on it since 2016. The service will dovetail with the newly redesigned transit system that prioritizes high-frequency service and shorter travel times. The new system, called MCTS Next, is currently being rolled out in three phases.

A study by the transit system found that nearly 70,000 people live within a half mile of the BRT route, which connects to major employment centers with thousands of jobs, and educational institutions like Marquette University and medical facilities like the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center. Of the 70,000 near the route, 21% don’t have a car, 37% are minority and 23% live below the poverty line.

The BRT was originally planned to be completed and operational by 2021. Delays in the grant-making process with the federal government pushed the project back a year. Now, it’s expected the service will be ready by late 2022.

Starting in 2019, the project hit delays as it tried to secure a $40.9 million Small Starts Grant from the federal Department of Transportation (DOT). The grant is covering 80% of the project costs and was critical to moving it forward.

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