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Milwaukee to chase streetcar grants

By Sean Ryan

The city Milwaukee will apply for some of the $130 million in federal streetcar project grants, U.S. Department of Transportation officials announced Tuesday.

The Federal Transit Administration is seeking applications for $280 million for transit projects. Of that, $130 million is for construction of new streetcars or other transit systems. The maximum grant amount per award will be $25 million.

Milwaukee officials will try to get some of that money for an estimated $60 million project to build a streetcar system in the downtown area, said Cecilia Gilbert, Milwaukee Department of Public Works spokeswoman.

The city already has $54.9 million in Federal Transit Administration money for the project, dubbed the Milwaukee Connector. Any additional money the city receives will add to the facilities along the existing routes that are being considered with, for example, additional passenger stops, she said.

The city collected public comments on the streetcar plan this fall. City engineers are considering various options for track routes and will ask city aldermen to approve a project plan in early 2010.

The remaining $150 million in FTA grant money is for buses or bus systems.

The transit administration will announce grant awards in early 2010.

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