(September 2016) The City of Milwaukee remains committed to expanding the starter streetcar route into adjacent neighborhoods and is evaluating next steps for an initial extension on Fourth Street. Key details of the effort (click each for more information):

On April 29th, 2016, the City of Milwaukee applied for a $20 million federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant for The Milwaukee Streetcar’s proposed Fourth Street Extension. On July 6, the Common Council approved a $20 million local match, funded using two existing and one new Tax Incremental Finance Districts. In late July, 2016 the U.S DOT announced the 2016 TIGER awards and the 4th Street extension wasn’t selected. This City will continue to evaluate future extension opportunities.

The initial Phase 1 Route and Lakefront Line are considered by the City to be “starter routes.”  There is an ongoing commitment to expansion of the streetcar system to serve additional neighborhoods, as detailed in the city-approved (2010) Locally Preferred Alternative and Common Council streetcar resolution approved in February 2015.

Fourth Street Extension makes key connections, paves way for future Bronzeville and Walker’s Point route

The Fourth Street Extension is a critical next step to expanding The Milwaukee Streetcar system to more neighborhoods, especially Bronzeville and Walker’s Point. City officials are beginning to plan extensions into these neighborhoods.  This extension will link the new Milwaukee Bucks Arena and ancillary development, and numerous destinations in the Westown neighborhood to other parts of the streetcar line.

The Fourth Street Extension connects to:

  • Redevelopment of the Shops at Grand Avenue
  • Fourth Street and Wisconsin Avenue development opportunity (see below)
  • Convention Center (Wisconsin Center)
  • More than 2,500 hotel rooms
  • Growing Westown residential base
  • Potential Milwaukee County Bus Rapid Transit
  • Major corporations, including Bon-Ton, Wisconsin Energy, Gannet’s Journal Media Group
  • The start of the King Drive BID neighborhood

The extension includes:

  • .75 route miles
  • 1.17 track miles
  • 3 stops
  • 90% dedicated lane
  • 90% off-wire
  • 1 additional streetcar vehicle

Job creation

The 4th Street Extension would mean additional jobs, both through construction of the extension in categories such as masons, laborers, electricians, and plumbers, as well as its ongoing maintenance and operation.  But, the secondary employment impacts of the streetcar extension, because of the related development along the route, are expected to be much bigger.

Having secured approval of the federal government, the City of Milwaukee will require contractors to hire local workers related to construction of the streetcar system, and will implement a training program on the project.  There also will be disadvantaged business enterprise contracting requirements on the streetcar project.

Other benefits

The entire region benefits from a vibrant central business district. It is a primary driving force for economic wealth in the region, with the region’s highest volume of jobs, entertainment and destinations. The City expects the development of the streetcar to help expand the tax base and enhance downtown through new commercial and housing development, new and expanded businesses, and higher occupancy rates, which benefits the entire City. And many people who don’t live or work downtown visit — for sporting events, restaurants, festivals and other activities. They’ll likely use the streetcar, too, because it will be easy to come downtown, park your car once or exit a County bus line and then conveniently travel the area as you use the streetcar to hop from shopping to restaurants to theater or other entertainment.

$20 million local commitment

The approved local match will be funded through Tax Incremental Financing as follows:

  1. Fourth/Wisconsin (TID #88, new): $8 million (see below) link to “Fourth & Wisconsin Development Potential / Transit Plaza” content
  2. Hilton Hotel, 6th/Wisconsin (TID #39, amendment to existing): $4 million
  3. Time Warner/Manpower (TID #41, amendment to existing): $8 million

Fourth and Wisconsin Development Potential / Transit Plaza

The City of Milwaukee Department of City Development (DCD) has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the sale and development of the city-owned lot at Fourth Street & Wisconsin Avenue. The RFP requires incorporation of a streetcar station for any submitted proposals. This planned streetcar connection improves the site significantly due to the modern transit connection, as well as a reduction in the large footprint of the site, which has been identified as a deterrent to some developers.

Additional federal request for Bronzeville/Walker’s Point extension planning; TOD planning grant

Initial Route - Milwaukee Streetcar

The City of Milwaukee has applied for a $750,000 federal Transit Oriented Development (TOD) planning grant would be used for comprehensive TOD planning along the proposed King Drive and Walker’s Point extensions.  This will help enable the City request entry into federal Small Starts project design for extensions of the streetcar north, likely along the Historic Dr. Martin Luther King Drive corridor, and south, to Walker’s Point.  Grant award announcements are expected in fall 2016.

With the grant, the City of Milwaukee would partner with Bronzeville and Walker’s Point neighborhood organizations to evaluate how to best leverage TOD to advance existing economic development efforts to revitalize these corridors. Better connecting these traditionally underserved neighborhoods to the 81,000 jobs in downtown will increase streetcar ridership and provide ladders of opportunity for near north side and near south side residents. 

The TOD planning grant would help fund:

  • public engagement and community input on appropriate densities, desirable land uses, infrastructure needs, and removing barriers to transit ridership;
  • an assessment of the City’s zoning code to ensure it supports higher-density mixed-use TOD development in the corridors;
  • development plans and policies for key sites along the corridors;
  • a connectivity plan that makes recommendations for streetscape improvements, wayfinding and gateway signage opportunities, bicycle and pedestrian connections, and other infrastructure improvements needed to increase ridership, connect the streetcar stations to the surrounding neighborhoods and break down barriers to equitable access;
  • a housing market analysis including housing development strategies, with a focus on providing new affordable options within TOD, preserving existing affordable housing, and protecting the historic properties along the corridors; and
  • recommendations on locally viable innovative financing strategies that may be used to support TOD.




The City of Milwaukee's official streetcar project website.