The Hop’s Milwaukee lakefront connection will operate for the first time on Sunday, Oct. 29, according to the streetcar’s operator. The new route will pass through future Couture transit plaza and run on limited service to avoid heavy construction.
Dubbed the “L Line,” riders can use the preview phase on Sundays between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. according to a news release. A single streetcar will operate in a figure eight pattern starting at Michigan Street, looping through the Couture site and giving riders a peek at construction inside the first floor. The streetcar will turn onto to Clybourn Street and stretch as far as St. Paul Avenue before coming back.
Jerrel Kruschke, commissioner of the Department of Public Works, said the city was pleased to let people try the new route out even as Couture construction continued.
“While the eventual opening of the Lakefront station itself will be a transformational milestone for The Hop, this opportunity to begin providing preview service will be tremendously valuable both in terms of allowing the city to become acquainted with the new route and how it will interface with the existing M Line, while also allowing our operations to fine-tune this service in advance of a very exciting summer in Milwaukee next year,” Kruschke added.
The new L Line is nearly 2 miles long and uses five existing streetcar stations along the Milwaukee Street and Broadway Avenue corridor, officials said. Three new stops will be added to connect to the lakefront, officials added.
Most of the funding for the extension project was provided by the Federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant awarded to the city in 2015, officials noted.
Project officials said the limited service was to ensure safety of the passengers as construction continued on site, including the use of an overhead crane and improvements to the surrounding streets. The L Line is expected to begin full service in spring of 2024, when lower-level occupancy permits for the Couture have been granted, officials added.
The Couture, located at the edge of East Michigan Street, is an ongoing 44-story mixed-use luxury tower project. Findorff crews are adding a new story every four days, project officials said. Barrett Lo Visionary Development is the developer for both the Couture and the streetcar extension inside.
The new route will connect the existing M Line to destinations such as the Henry Maier Festival Park, Milwaukee Art Museum, Discovery World and Veterans Park, officials said.
Crews from Kiewit Corporation started construction of 1,000 feet of streetcar track between Michigan Avenue and Clybourn Street in April, according to project officials. Crews are expected to finish up additional street work this month.