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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I thought it was about time to start a dedicated thread for this subject since best case tomorrow this project is approved and worst case it is approved in January. I just do not see this project not happening anymore and I wanted everyone to have a place to post dedicated stories, updates, and photos for this project. For those who have not been following the Milwaukee Streetcar project here is a map of the downtown starter route along with all of the planned future extensions:



The length of the starter route is 4.6 miles and will cost approximately $123.9 million.

The following quote is courtesy of the Milwaukee Streetcar website and provides the reason for the location of the starter route pictured in blue on the map above:

The downtown starter route was identified to serve the greatest numbers of riders along a route that also provides significant opportunities for economic development. It was designed to complement existing bus routes, especially the major bus corridor along Wisconsin Avenue. It connects the Intermodal Station and its 1.4 million annual users; the Third Ward (the fastest-growing neighborhood in City); East Town (with the largest concentration of jobs in the state); and the lower east side (the highest-density residential neighborhood in state). The initial route and extensions would be within a quarter-mile* of the following destinations:


-100% hotels
-90% occupied office
-90% occupied retail
-77% of parking
-77% of housing
-90% of major downtown attractions
-100% of downtown’s 20 largest employers



Artists renderings of the streetcar on Wells St and also passing by the Milwaukee Public Market on St. Paul


Another rendering of the streetcar passing in front of the Public Market

And here is the link to the official Milwaukee Streetcar project website:

http://milwaukeestreetcar.com/index.php


Streetcar station in the transit plaza of the proposed Couture high rise along Lake Michigan in downtown Milwaukee


Streetcar leaving the transit plaza under the Couture
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I know that all of these news stories are old news to anyone who follows the Milwaukee development thread, but I am posting them here as a recap for anyone who again has not been following this project so that they can see how we have arrived at a Common Council vote on this project tomorrow:

City Unveils New Plan to Build on $2.6 Billion in Downtown Investment by Moving the Streetcar Project Forward.

With notable development underway in downtown and opportunities to expand on that development, Mayor Tom Barrett announced a new plan to move the Milwaukee Streetcar project forward. Using non-property tax funding, the new plan adds a lakefront line to the previously announced route and covers the potential costs of utility relocation.

The plan, which relies on previously allocated federal funding and tax incremental financing funds generated by new development near the route, will enable streetcar operation to begin by 2018, officials estimate.


http://milwaukeestreetcar.com/news/november-2014.php
Redevelopment Authority OKs plan to help pay for streetcar line

A proposal to help finance downtown Milwaukee's $123.9 million streetcar line with property tax revenue generated by new developments was recommended for approval Tuesday by the city Redevelopment Authority.

http://milwaukeestreetcar.com/pdf/Milw-Journal-Sentinel-Redevelopment-Authority-OKs-plan-to-help-pay-for-streetcar-line-12-2-14.pdf
Milwaukee streetcar proposal moves to full Common Council

The Common Council will take up the proposed $123.9 million downtown streetcar project when it meets Tuesday.

Wednesday, as expected, the council's Public Works Committee declined, on a 3-2 vote, to give the project its approval. But it did agreed, on a 4-1 vote, to send the matter to the full council.


http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/milwaukee-streetcar-proposal-moves-to-full-common-council-b99406824z1-285395871.html
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
I guess this wasn't completely unexpected. According to this article the vote for the streetcar project will now occur on January 21st as the option to delay a vote on this project can only be used once by opponents. Someone can correct me if I am wrong about this, but this project was moved from 30% to 60% engineering several years ago with a vote of 10-5 in the common council and it would almost seem that this might be the vote again in January since there were 5 alderman voting to delay voting on this project.

Milwaukee Common Council delays streetcar vote until January

The Milwaukee Common Council voted Tuesday to hold the vote on a $49 million spending proposal for the hotly debated downtown streetcar project.

The decision to put the vote off until a Common Council meeting Jan. 21, 2015, came after very little discussion on the project. Ald. Joe Dudzik moved to hold the vote.


http://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2014/12/16/milwaukee-common-council-delays-streetcar-vote.html
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Binding referendum on streetcar borrowing may be off the table

The Milwaukee Common Council's tally on Tuesday indicates that, when the streetcar comes up for another vote next month, it will gain approval unless aldermen switch their votes.

Another strategy by opponents to challenge the project with a binding voter referendum also seems unlikely.

Aldermen voted 9-5 on several items relating to the streetcar, with project supporters in the majority. Due to a parliamentary procedure, the votes from the five opponents were enough to delay a final decision until the Common Council's next meeting on Jan. 21.


http://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/blog/2014/12/binding-referendum-on-streetcar-borrowing-may-be.html
 

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I don't know the politics of Milwaukee, but I go there every year and L-O-V-E it! :cheers: I'm also not an expert on anything urban related, but this looks like a good transit solution.
The politics of Milwaukee are not the problem. The politics of the suburbs and other regions of the state are. Many conservatives see mass transit, specifically rail transit, as a liberal/Democrat initiative and are against it for almost no good reason. Businesses within the city, especially Downtown, are largely behind this. But, ideologues in the state government make this one questionable. Remember the KRM line?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
The politics of Milwaukee are not the problem. The politics of the suburbs and other regions of the state are. Many conservatives see mass transit, specifically rail transit, as a liberal/Democrat initiative and are against it for almost no good reason. Businesses within the city, especially Downtown, are largely behind this. But, ideologues in the state government make this one questionable. Remember the KRM line?
I really don't want to turn this into a political argument, especially since you and I agree on almost everything on the Milwaukee threads. I do agree with you that the politics in the suburbs and at the state level cause problems for projects like this, however the one point that I do have disagree with you on is that politics in Milwaukee do cause problems as well.

Look at the vote for the streetcar yesterday and in my opinion at least Donovan and Davis's votes were politically motivated for the mayoral election. Donovan is trying to appeal to the citizens of the city who oppose the streetcar as the person to vote for as mayor and Davis has said he is trying to look out for his constituents in the inner city by opposing the streetcar because it does not benefit them, trying to secure the votes of the inner city for the next election.

So again in my opinion there are plenty of internal city politics interfering with this project, but with that being said unless something unexpected happens there appears to be enough votes on the common council to approve this project in January.
 

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I really don't want to turn this into a political argument, especially since you and I agree on almost everything on the Milwaukee threads. I do agree with you that the politics in the suburbs and at the state level cause problems for projects like this, however the one point that I do have disagree with you on is that politics in Milwaukee do cause problems as well.

Look at the vote for the streetcar yesterday and in my opinion at least Donovan and Davis's votes were politically motivated for the mayoral election. Donovan is trying to appeal to the citizens of the city who oppose the streetcar as the person to vote for as mayor and Davis has said he is trying to look out for his constituents in the inner city by opposing the streetcar because it does not benefit them, again in my opinion trying to secure the votes of the inner city for the next election.

So again in my opinion there are plenty of internal city politics interfering with this project, but with that being said unless something unexpected happens there appears to be enough votes on the common council to approve this project in January.
Learning more about this situation does open my eyes to the fact that Milwaukee does have political problems as well. It's sad to see that internal and external issues could potentially "derail" the streetcar.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Streetcar proposal stirs debate about morality, racism

Ald. Milele A. Coggs ripped into Ald. Joe Davis Tuesday after Davis during a heated Common Council debate characterized the downtown Milwaukee streetcar proposal as immoral and racist.

"As I sat here listing to the comments, I felt like I couldn't breathe," Coggs told the council, which had already voted to delay consideration of the project until January and had begun to debate whether to delay streetcar's proposed financing measures.

"We are getting ready to wipe out from the public any say," Davis said, echoing their sentiments. He called the proposal "immoral."


http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/milwaukee-council-delays-decision-on-city-streetcar-proposal-b99409715z1-285963691.html
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
I wanted to include this story because in it even the alderman who voted to postpone the vote on the streetcar project admit that barring some sort of miracle this is pretty much a done deal, all they accomplished was delaying the inevitable.

Vote delayed, but few options remain to stop downtown streetcar

Streetcar opponents needed a handful of aldermen to pull off a procedural move that delays a vote on the controversial downtown streetcar project until January.

"I think that it would appropriate to hold it for further debate," Ald. Joe Dudzik said during Tuesday's common council meeting.

South Side Alderman Bob Donovan will use the extra time to attempt to persuade supporters to change their vote. He concedes there is not enough opposition to stop the project.

"It looks very good that the mayor is going to win this battle," Donovan told TODAY'S TMJ4 reporter Tom Murray.


http://www.jrn.com/tmj4/news/Milwaukee-streetcar-vote-expected-Tuesday-285937431.html
And I want to make one correction to my previous statement that this would be resolved in January. I found this quote from urbanmilwaukee.com further explaining the voting process:

This sets up a floor debate at the regularly scheduled January 21st council meeting, but don’t expect a resolution then either. Streetcar opponents on the council can vote for the project, then move to reconsider. Their move to reconsider would allow the project to be held for one more session if it again gets just three votes in support of the delay. This would then setup a final showdown at the February 10th meeting of the council.

http://urbanmilwaukee.com/2014/12/16/eyes-on-milwaukee-council-delays-streetcar-until-january/
So again even though opponents admit that this project is more than likely going to happen they can actually delay a decision being made for one more common council meeting.
 

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So again even though opponents admit that this project is more than likely going to happen they can actually delay a decision being made for one more common council meeting.
The maneuver is to give the public the impression of controversy. Its very ugly and dysfunctional politics as the orchestrators already know what the end result will be.

Tom Barrett does a good job of defending the streetcar in this interview.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suKzZGd3bbc
 

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The maneuver is to give the public the impression of controversy. Its very ugly and dysfunctional politics as the orchestrators already know what the end result will be. Tom Barrett does a good job of defending the streetcar in this interview. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suKzZGd3bbc
Barrett does a great job of explaining it.

That said, is anyone else concerned about the opportunity for the state legislature to act before the next council vote? Wasn't there some law passed in the 90s prohibiting cities from building light rail. Any reason the state couldn't do the same with the streetcar?

If they enacted such a law it would be the end of home-rule, but that doctrine is already hanging by a thread.
 

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Barrett does a great job of explaining it.

That said, is anyone else concerned about the opportunity for the state legislature to act before the next council vote? Wasn't there some law passed in the 90s prohibiting cities from building light rail. Any reason the state couldn't do the same with the streetcar?

If they enacted such a law it would be the end of home-rule, but that doctrine is already hanging by a thread.
I think they won't be able to do anything like that considering Kenosha already has a streetcar and is expanding it.

Besides, what reason would there be for it? The State already endorsed using the federal money for this system back when the city/county split was done of the remainder that Governor Thompson earmarked back when the state park and the 6th st viaduct and the Park East yada yada yada..............
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
I have done this on the Milwaukee Transit and Transportation thread, but I am posting links to the companies currently working on the engineering of the Milwaukee Streetcar. Nothing too new on any of these links, I think the most recent article was from July of this year. However I find that sometimes if I check links like these I can find additional information not necessarily being posted by local news outlets, so as the streetcar gains approval in either January or February these might be good locations to occasionally look for news releases with updates on the streetcar project.

HNTB Corporation adds multiple key rail transit experts to serve growing U.S. transit market

Currently the firm is working on several high-profile rail and transit programs including:
•Dallas Area Rapid Transit South Oak Cliff Corridor Blue Line Extension – Dallas
•Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority general engineering contract – Philadelphia
•Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority Green Line Extension – Boston
•SunRail and All Aboard Florida – Florida
•M-1 Rail streetcar project – Milwaukee
•Sound Transit U-niversity and East Link extensions – Seattle
•Chicago Transit Authority’s Red Line Wilson Station Reconstruction – Chicago


http://www.hntb.com/

Olson Named Top 40 Under 40 Winner by Mass Transit Magazine

Olson has a wide range of rail transit project design and management experience, including conceptual planning, final design and construction. He is HDR's design manager for the Dallas Streetcar Design-Build Project and project manager on the Kansas City Downtown Streetcar, St. Paul Streetcar and Milwaukee Streetcar projects. Olson is leading or supporting engineering efforts on projects in Tacoma, Salt Lake City and other locations.

http://www.hdrinc.com/

Milwaukee Streetcar | Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Client
City of Milwaukee
HNTB


TERRA was retained to support the design of a light rail street car for the City of Milwaukee through downtown Milwaukee. It was designed to complement existing bus routes, and connects the Intermodal Station and its 1.4 million annual users; the Third Ward, East Town and the lower east side of the City.

http://www.terraengineering.com/milwaukee-streetcar-wisconsin/
And here is a link to the Environmental Assessment conducted in 2011 for the streetcar. It is a long document to read, but there is info in regarding the maintenance facility, streetcar stop design, track layout in the street, etc.

http://www.themilwaukeestreetcar.com/pdf/Milwaukee-Streetcar-Environmental-Assessment.pdf

Here is a sample of just a few of the images / information found in the Environmental Assessment:

[/url]Milwaukee Streetcar Maintenance Facility by splat21, on Flickr[/IMG]
Streetcar Maintenance Facility and elevation from 4th St. Image courtesy of HNTB and the Milwaukee Streetcar Environmental Assessment

[/url]MIlwaukee Streetcar Stops by splat21, on Flickr[/IMG]
Streetcar stations and shelters courtesy of HNTB, the Milwaukee Public Works Dept., and the Milwaukee Streetcar Environmental Assessment
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
This has to be a mix-up, unless the names are identical. M-1 Rail is Detroit's streetcar project currently under construction.
I think it is a mix-up, I noticed that as well. I have never the Milwaukee project referred to as M-1 anywhere other than this article and the designation is pretty specific to Detroit. HNTB is definitely working on the Milwaukee streetcar, but I was wondering if they were also involved in the M-1 rail project and someone writing this article got that mixed up?
 

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One potential stumbling block could be the site for the maintenance facility or barn. It is at 433 W. Clybourn, just north of the Intermodal Station and under 794. It is owned by the County and controlled by WisDOT. So for them to acquire it will need approval from the County Board and WisDOT.
The preferred maintenance facility site is located directly adjacent to the streetcar route and contains
approximately two acres which allows for the storage of at least eight modern streetcar vehicles. The site
is currently owned by Milwaukee County and controlled by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation
and is currently vacant and underutilized; therefore acquisition/lease costs would be minimal compared to
other properties along the route. Additionally, the site is entirely located below Interstate 794 and
controlled by public entities, thus it would be very difficult to ever utilize the site for a taxable use.
If politics can be played here it will be.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
One potential stumbling block could be the site for the maintenance facility or barn. It is at 433 W. Clybourn, just north of the Intermodal Station and under 794. It is owned by the County and controlled by WisDOT. So for them to acquire it will need approval from the County Board and WisDOT.

If politics can be played here it will be.
I believe the situation with WisDOT is essentially resolved. The following quote if from a document entitled July 2012 City of Milwaukee response brief, it is not easy to find but it is in the document:

On November 29, 2010, the City and WisDOT entered into an Intergovernmental Agreement ("2010 IGA") through which WisDOT agreed to make certain Interstate lands and rights-of-way to the City for purpose of building, operating and maintaining a streetcar maintenance facility.

http://www.themilwaukeestreetcar.com/pdf/Milwaukee-PSC-Response-Brief-July-2012.pdf
So unless this agreement needs to be renegotiated because it is already four years old, then the only stumbling block to building the maintenance building at the Clybourn location would be the county. I am going to make an assumption that the county will not be an issue though since they just approved the land sale for the Couture which they know is dependent on the streetcar for its construction.
 
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