November 6, 2015
 

With Final Design well underway, The Milwaukee Streetcar continues to make strong progress. Read below for information on recent news, events and steps forward. As always, get the latest news by liking the project on Facebook and following on Twitter. Thank you for your ongoing interest!

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City to work with SEWRPC to plan future streetcar expansion   Vehicle procurement process advances

Streetcar to receive $14.2 million federal grant for Lakefront Line extension

 

Streetcar cited as factor in the $13 million purchase of downtown's main post office building

 

Mayor Tom Barrett, representatives of U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, and Aldermen Robert Bauman, Nik Kovac and Willie Wade were joined last week by U.S. Department of Transportation Under Secretary Peter Rogoff to announce that the department has awarded the City of Milwaukee a $14.2 million grant for construction of The Milwaukee Streetcar's Lakefront Line. The Lakefront Line, approved along with The Milwaukee Streetcar's Phase 1 route by the Common Council and Mayor Barrett in February 2015, will connect the system to the Lakefront with service along E. Michigan and E. Clybourn streets.

The federal grant is from the federal TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) program. "We congratulate the citizens of Milwaukee, who are the true winners in obtaining these highly competitive TIGER grant funds," said Federal Transit Administration Acting Administrator Therese McMillan in a news release. "This project will provide a new link between downtown Milwaukee and new redevelopment efforts underway along the lakefront, as well as spur new economic development and improve transportation options for residents, commuters and visitors." Milwaukee's streetcar application was one of 39 projects that were selected from 627 eligible applications.

In addition to this extension to the Phase 1 Route, the Mayor plans on future system expansion into neighborhoods as part of a modern streetcar network improving transit across the City. See route maps here.

 

Being on The Milwaukee Streetcar route is one reason for the $13 million purchase and planned redevelopment of downtown's main post office building, according to the Chicago-based buyer, R2 Companies, a privately held, fully integrated real estate investment firm. The redevelopment is expected to include retail, a high-end grocery, offices and restaurants. As stated in the company's announcement, the post office building has 1,500 feet of frontage on the Menomonee River in downtown Milwaukee and is adjacent to the Third Ward and Walker's Point neighborhoods, as well as the Harley Davidson Museum campus. The site is next to the Milwaukee Intermodal Station, Milwaukee's main intercity bus and train station, which was renovated in 2007, and will be a hub for the streetcar line. "We believe Milwaukee is poised for continued urbanization and growth. All necessary elements are in place, and we want to build on the existing traction and civic pride," said Matt Garrison, R2's Managing Principal.

Get the inside track on construction news   City conducts streetcar-related DBE, contracting seminar
City will soon announce streetcar manufacturer, TIGER VII grant allows addition of one vehicle  

Streetcar viewed as important component of Lakefront Gateway Project

 

The Department of Public Works is in the final stages of negotiations with a manufacturer to build modern fixed-rail vehicles for The Milwaukee Streetcar project. Initially, the City was requesting the purchase of four vehicles, with options to procure additional streetcars at a later time. With the recent announcement of the $14.2 million federal grant to help fund the Lakefront Line extension, the City plans to exercise its first option to add a fifth vehicle to the order to be used on that route. As is typical, the City does not disclose the preferred vendor until contract negotiations are complete.

 

The Milwaukee Lakefront Gateway Plaza design competition reached an important juncture as local governments and a jury of lakefront stakeholders selected the design team led by Graef to move forward with planning for the project. The vision is to create a world-class public plaza in the area immediately west of the Discovery World museum. The Graef team was one of 24 groups from around the country that submitted a response to the City and County's request for qualifications, reviewed by downtown and lakefront stakeholders. "We have an opportunity to add a beautiful, defining space to the downtown portion of Milwaukee's lakefront. It is a site that will add energy and connections," Mayor Tom Barrett said. "Most importantly, the Lakefront Gateway Plaza can become a site that draws people and activity year-round – maximizing the significance of one of the greatest locations in our City."

In news coverage about the announcement, Matt Rinka of Rinka Chung Architecture, a member of the Graef design team said, "That news (on the TIGER grant) is huge for the streetcar progression and it's going to make the funding of it much easier, obviously, to have that much infused into a very important spur. I think the fact that people can get down here or people that are here, maybe from out of town, that park in this area can jump on the streetcar and get to other parts of the city is really important."

 

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