Graham Kilmer
Transportation

BRT Construction On Schedule

Crews have poured concrete and run utility lines for a number of BRT platforms.

By - Sep 9th, 2021 11:16 am
Future BRT platform on N. 92nd St. at the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center. Photo by Graham Kilmer.

Future BRT platform on N. 92nd St. at the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center. Photo by Graham Kilmer.

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.

The project is expected to be completed by October 2022. The infrastructure is being built from west to east, and construction crews working for the contractor Zenith Tech are making good time.

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.

The new fare system has not been purchased yet. MCTS is still evaluating proposals it received through an RFP process. But planners know they want the fare system to accept multiple forms of payment — including phone, card and cash — and that, as Brittany Bertsch, an MCTS project manager said: “3e want to make it as easy as possible.”

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.

The level boarding platforms mean riders will be able to board the bus from a platform that is flush with the floor of the bus. It makes it easier to board the bus for riders that use mobility devices like walkers and wheelchairs.

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.

Construction Photos

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2 thoughts on “Transportation: BRT Construction On Schedule”

  1. Gordon Skare says:

    It doesn’t seem as if progress on the new BRT stops is moving quickly. In driving between 67th St and 95th St. on Bluemound you can’t get out of the left lane. If you do you will be waiting for the entire traffic flow to pass by as the next BRT stop being constructed will force you into the left lane again, if you had moved to the right. The right lanes have been closed for months on end.
    Also after the elevated new stops are in place, I wonder if lack of driver attention (drifting to the right) will cause accidents smashing into the stops??
    One must accept changes……

  2. Thomas Sepllman says:

    To see the route would be nice Thanks

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