Mayor Tom Barrett
Press Release

Mayor Tom Barrett’s Statement on Today’s Public Service Commission Ruling

We’re not surprised that the Public Service Commission continues to politicize a local public works improvement project.

By - Apr 23rd, 2014 03:41 pm

“We’re not surprised that the Public Service Commission continues to politicize a local public works improvement project. The PSC and State Legislature believe that private investor-owned utilities, which use publicly financed roadways for free, should be given special treatment when it comes to public improvement projects in Milwaukee.

We disagree.

Despite the PSC and Legislative actions to curtail local control of local streets and roadways, we’ve made significant progress in reducing the project’s associated utility costs. Before entering final engineering, the utilities’ original claim of $55 to $70 million in costs has been reduced to approximately $20 million. In addition, last week the City received a $3.18 million streetcar grant, approved by Federal transportation officials, the regional planning body and officials from the Wisconsin Departments of Transportation and Natural Resources.

In order to drive the costs down further, we expect even more cooperation from the utility companies than we have had to date.”

2 thoughts on “Mayor Tom Barrett’s Statement on Today’s Public Service Commission Ruling”

  1. CD says:

    If the state will not let the city have utilities pay the costs of relocation, can the city tax the utiilites for the space they are using under the streets?

  2. smh says:

    Two things to consider:

    1. Charge We Energies rent for using the public right of way they refuse to aid in. They’re being a bad tenant.

    2. Look at elevated lanes for the streetcar. Just put the tracks above the current pavement. No more utility move then and the streetcar would get its own dedicated right-of-way.

    3. I think it’s time we look at Ald. Baumann’s plan to get the city off the grid of We Energies. And any new TOD that comes from the streetcar should get massive tax incentives to be 100% energy independent.

  3. Andrew says:

    Building an elevated right of way for the streetcar solves the problem of relocating the underground utilities, but creates another problem, which is access to the system. Every stop would be required to have stairs an an elevator, if not escalators too, to provide access for the riders to and from street level. Under the ADA, Americans with Disibilites Act, elevators would be required to make the system accessible to all potential riders. Another downside to the elevated lines would be the redeced amount of natural light that gets to street level. True, an elevated system would speed up the streetcars, as they would not have to contend with the current of traffic using the roads.

    Let’s also consider for a moment that all the underground utilities in downtown Milwaukee have been buried for some time, and they will need to be renewed at some point, so is WE Energies trying to get the streetcar project to pay for renewing it’s buried power and gas distribution networks? It is my opinion that with what WE Energies charges for its product, they should cover the bills related to there own network of distribution lines, even if the lines that are buried under the streets in question are not scheduled to be upgraded in the near future.

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