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Milwaukee Panel OKs money to plan for Walker’s Point streetcar extension

Crews shore up forms along Michigan Street for the Milwaukee Streetcar project in April 2018. A Milwaukee committee voted on Tuesday to set aside money to study plans to extend the streetcar service, officially named The Hop, into the city’s Walker’s Point neighborhood. (File photo by Kevin Harnack)

Crews shore up forms along Michigan Street for the Milwaukee Streetcar project in April 2018. A Milwaukee committee voted on Tuesday to set aside money to study plans to extend the streetcar service, officially named The Hop, into the city’s Walker’s Point neighborhood. (File photo by Kevin Harnack)

A Milwaukee committee endorsed plans on Tuesday to begin studying a proposed extension of the city’s streetcar south into the the city’s Walker’s Point neighborhood.

The city’s Zoning, Neighborhoods and Development Committee voted to authorize spending $250,000 on the proposed southward lengthening of the street car’s route. The planning work has to be done before the city can apply for federal grants for the proposed project.

Dan Casanova, of Milwaukee’s Department of City Development, said similar planning work has already occurred, or is underway, for proposed northward extensions of the streetcar service, also known as The Hop.

“We want to get some of the work going right now so we can get a better handle on some of the capital costs,” Casanova said.

The approval of planning money for the Walker’s Point streetcar connection was a small step toward reaching the city’s larger goals for The Hop. The planning would also come as part of a $3.7 million project to rebuild a stretch of South 5th Street and improve South 6th Street. Although city officials have identified a route for the streetcar through the city’s nearby 3rd Ward, it’s unclear what path The Hop would take through Walker’s Point.

The streetcar opened to the public with a 2.1-mile route circling downtown Milwaukee. In 2019, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and other local officials announced plans to take the streetcar beyond the central city. They have since begun planning a link to the city’s Bronzeville neighborhood, north of downtown.

It could be years, however, before the city completes planning for the project, secures the needed money and starts construction on the links to Walker’s Point and Bronzeville. Casanova said city officials hope to have the construction of both proposed extensions started at roughly the same time.

The city, meanwhile, has finished about three-quarters of the planning work needed to take The Hop to the Fiserv Forum, Casanova said.

And the city has wrapped up planning work for a 0.4-mile extension of the streetcar from the Milwaukee Intermodal Station and the Wisconsin Center on West Wisconsin Avenue.

Milwaukee earlier this month sought a $24 million federal grant for the $33 million Wisconsin Avenue project. If the city receives that grant, construction on the project could begin soon afterwards and the line could open to passengers in 2023. Plans call for that extension to run along Vel R. Philips Avenue to a public plaza on West Wisconsin Avenue, then run back to the Intermodal station on Fifth Street.

“That is essentially shovel-ready, construction could begin almost immediately if funds are secured,” said Ald. Bob Bauman.

About Nate Beck, nbeck@dailyreporter.com

Nate Beck is The Daily Reporter's construction staff writer. He can be reached at (414) 225-1814 (office) or 414-388-5635 (mobile).

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