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Milwaukee approves downtown streetcar planning (VIDEO)

A rendering shows what Broadway in downtown Milwaukee will look like if the city’s proposed streetcar system is built. The project will help spur construction of 9,000 new housing units and 20,500 new jobs, according to city studies. (Rendering courtesy of the city of Milwaukee)

A rendering shows what Broadway Street in downtown Milwaukee will look like if the city’s proposed streetcar system is built. The project will help spur construction of 9,000 new housing units and 20,500 new jobs, according to city studies. (Rendering courtesy of the city of Milwaukee)

By Sean Ryan

The city of Milwaukee gained approval from a local task force to use federal money to continue engineering a planned $95.8 million downtown streetcar system.

The city needed approval from a local task force that oversees federal transit grant money awarded to Milwaukee in 1991. There is still $91.5 million in transit grants for Milwaukee County that the city and county have not spent.

The task force has representatives of the city, Milwaukee County, Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce and Wisconsin Center District. The committee voted 3-1, with Milwaukee County dissenting, to approve the city’s request to continue engineering and environmental studies for its streetcar plan.

The approval lets Milwaukee engineers get more solid numbers on project construction costs and complete environmental studies the Federal Transit Administration will require before dedicating money to build the system.

The streetcar project, which Milwaukee officials plan to complete by 2013, would run streetcars on tracks on a route that begins at the Milwaukee Intermodal Station, heads east down St. Paul Avenue and then north on Broadway and into the city’s densely populated lower east side neighborhood.

The city will use $54.9 million from the available federal grant money to pay for the project, but requested $25 million more from the FTA to build track on Fourth Street and deeper into the east side neighborhoods.

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