BRT Construction On Schedule
Crews have poured concrete and run utility lines for a number of BRT platforms.
Construction is moving along on the $55 million East-West Bus Rapid Transit project that, once completed, will bisect Milwaukee County.
Crews have poured the concrete for several of the elevated bus stops that will line the nine-mile route running from downtown Milwaukee out to Wauwatosa and the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center.
David Locher, transportation manager for the Milwaukee County Transit System, said construction of the infrastructure west of N. 35th Street is expected to be completed this year as part of the first phase of construction. He told the county board’s committee on Transportation, Public Works and Transit Wednesday that, if weather permits, construction may stretch as far east as N. 27th St. during the first phase. The second phase will run during spring and summer 2022 with planned construction of BRT infrastructure for the rest of the line to Downtown.
MCTS and the Milwaukee County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) have been working on the BRT project since 2016. In December 2020, the project finally secured a $41 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration.
This is the first bus rapid transit project in Milwaukee County. BRT lines are intended to create a faster, easier-to-use transit service.
The East-West BRT will have a mix of dedicated lanes, fewer stops and traffic signal priority all contributing to quicker travel times. It will also have new technologies like fare payments systems at the stops so riders can pay their fare or buy bus tickets before they board the bus.
Bertsch also said there will be real-time signs at the stops telling riders when their bus will arrive. These signs, Bertsch said, will be similar to signs at the airport showing the timing of flight arrivals. There is a request for proposals out for these new signs.
The BRT will be the first bus service to run battery-electric buses. The county recently contracted with Canadian manufacturer Nova Bus to build 15 BEB’s, 11 of which will serve the BRT.
Construction is moving along on the elevated platforms allowing passengers to board at bus level. The concrete has already been poured for a number of platforms running from the regional medical complex out to the intersection of N. Glenview Ave. and W. Bluemound Rd. in Wauwatosa. Crews have already excavated work sites as far west as N. 67th and W. Bluemound Rd.
MCTS recently built a test platform outside of its maintenance facility at 1525 W. Vine St. Locher said the platform will be used to train drivers on how to drive for BRT.
Planners and leaders at MCTS see BRT as a new, modern service for Milwaukee transit that will attract new riders along with current “baseline ridership,” Locher said.
At a groundbreaking for the BRT project in June, Dan Boehm, MCTS managing director, said “We’re standing at a crucial intersection of transit’s future,” adding that the new service will “provide improved access to the region’s most vital, most traveled and most congested corridor.”
It will also fit neatly into the overhaul of the transit network, called MCTS Next, that was recently completed. Under MCTS Next 60% of bus routes are high-frequency routes with fewer stops and faster travel times.
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Read more about East-West BRT Line here