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Milwaukee - February 2015

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Milwaukee — Streetcar Approved

February 2015

The Milwaukee city council has approved Mayor Tom Barrett's plan to build a 2.5-mile street car route in downtown. The proposed line would connect the Amtrak station with the Third Ward neighborhood and popular downtown destinations. Possible expansions would add routes to Marquette University, the Walker's Point neighborhood, popular establishments on Brady Street and North Avenue, and even the city's airport.

"I'm betting on the future of the city of Milwaukee," Mayor Barrett tells WISN-TV. "I believe you're going to see investment and growth along and near the route."

The council approved the project with a 9-6 vote. The council, by the same margin, also voted to create a tax incremental financing district at the east end of Michigan Street that would generate $31 million and to amend a TIF district on E. Erie Street that would generate another $18.3 million.

Also $9.7 million would be drawn from an existing Cathedral Square tax incremental financing district. The balance of the capital costs would come from an existing $55 million Federal grant and a $10 million Federal grant which is not yet approved. Federal funds will cover 80% of operating costs of the line during its first 18 months. City officials believe they may be able to extend that grant for an another 18 months.

The street car line would cost about $124 million to build, and about $3.2 million annually for operations and maintenance, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports. Part of the construction costs would be covered by a $54 million federal grant, WISN reports.

Officials say the groundbreaking could occur by the end of 2015, with street cars in operation by the end of 2018.


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