Local rail focus a streetcar to nowhere
This week’s scorecard: Streetcar 1, common sense 0 (regional rail forfeited).
The Milwaukee Common Council on Tuesday approved construction of a $64.6 million, 2.1-mile streetcar line. Officials showed off this map to tout how the rail line could develop into a sprawling transportation system that could connect riders to destinations such as Miller Park and the Lake Michigan shoreline.
You know what also could have connected riders to Miller Park and Lake Michigan and beyond? A regional rail system. But that went the way of high-speed rail Monday after the Southeastern Regional Transit Authority disbanded and began disbursing its $1.2 million in assets among Kenosha, Racine and Milwaukee counties.
The dissolution of SERTA kills a proposed $200 million, 33-mile commuter rail line between Kenosha, Racine and Milwaukee that had been in planning for more than two years.
“It’s a day of disappointment when you look at efforts around regional transit,” SERTA member Julia Taylor said. “I’m sorry to see this day come.”
Don’t worry Ms. Taylor, we’ll always have our fancy streetcars to make us think we’re in 1960s San Francisco.
So, once again, the state will return federal money — this time as much as $21.1 million in grant cash.
Wisconsin already returned $810 million meant for high-speed rail and left the state’s taxpayers on the hook for $31.6 million for work the feds would have paid for.
Meanwhile, Milwaukee already has $54.9 million in federal money for the streetcar and plans to chip in $9.7 million from a tax-incremental financing district.
“I was really disappointed when the governor turned down $810 million (for high-speed rail between Madison and Milwaukee),” said Lee Holloway, chairman of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors. “I think we’ll never get that opportunity again.
“Things have bypassed us.”
At least we’ll always have 1960s San Francisco.
Joe Yovino is the web editor at The Daily Reporter. He can’t wait to pick up the streetcar at the corner of Michigan and Broadway and ride it down the block to his car.