Milwaukee — Mayor Promotes Streetcar
The Los Angeles Times reported about streetcar plans in Milwaukee and the leadership provided by Mayor Tom Barrett to bring back this form of transportation that had disappeared from the city's streets in 1958. The route planned for the new streetcar line is two miles long through the city's east side, downtown, and Third Ward, an old warehouse district now being transformed with shops and restaurants.
The Mayor is lookfing forward to streetcars helping to revitalize downtown stating that they are more about attracting attention than providing transportation, citing the case of Portland.
Milwaukee's system would cost nearly $65 million, most of which would come from federal funds and the rest from tax increment financing. The assumption is that the value of property along the route would be enhanced by the streetcar line.
Transportation experts agree that modern streetcars, like those in Seattle or Toronto, or even traditional systems in San Francisco and New Orleans, have cachet, or a "coolness" factor.
"A lot of cities are looking for that elusive type of 'beachfront property' benefit that can attract residents, that draws people," said Mantill Williams, a spokesman for the American Public Transit Assn., which represents transportation agencies.
Barrett considers the currently planned line as only a beginning. He would like to extend the line farther north along the city's east side, and also through more of the downtown area.