Milwaukee — FTA Approves Route Change
The Federal Transit Administration approved changes to the proposed Milwaukee downtown streetcar route designed to reduce utility relocation delays and costs, as reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The agency also formally determined that the project will have no significant impact on the environment, an important step in the process for securing Federal funding.
The city is counting on $54.9 million in Federal funds as the lion's share of the $64.6 million the city has available for the project.
Mayor Tom Barrett is determined to move the project forward despite efforts in the legislature to kill it by mandating that any utility relocation costs be paid by the project, not by utility ratepayers. Barrett has said recently that he continues to press the streetcar project forward because it will serve as an economic driver for the city.
The first phase of the line calls for streetcars to travel south on N. Broadway and north on N. Milwaukee St., between E. Wells St. and E. St. Paul Ave.
"This route change saves an estimated $10 million in AT&T relocation costs and reduces additional expenses by avoiding the need to move 2,000 lineal feet of steam tunnels and 2,000 lineal feet of electrical ducts," said Jeff Polenske, the city's engineer. "We're pleased by the FTA's approval of the route change, which will produce major savings and bring the benefits of the streetcar to an additional street."
The Public Service Commission is reviewing whether the new state law about utility relocation will affect the project, and is expected to rule within months.