Thursday, January 16, 2014

FTA OKs Milwaukee streetcar route adjustment

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FTA OKs Milwaukee streetcar route adjustment City of Milwaukee

The Federal Transit Administation (FTA) has granted Milwaukee its request to adjust a portion of its proposed streetcar route through downtown, sought by the city in order to reduce utility relocation costs.

The adjustment request made to FTA came after FTA gave approval to the project a year ago, necessitating an amendment to FTA's Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). The city has held that the route change will not significantly alter the project's goals or potential impacts, and FTA now has concurred.

Federal funding of $54.9 million has been approved for the project. The proposed adjustments could reduce the potential costs of utility relocation by up to $10 million, the city has said.

The reroute moves a north-bound streetcar track from North Broadway to North Milwaukee Street, avoiding the need to move some underground AT&T lines and nearly one-half mile of steam tunnels, as well as 2,000 feet of electrical ducts, City Engineer Jeff Polenske told local media.

Still at issue for Milwaukee is whether the city, the utility companies involved, or both will pay for relocation costs, a concern that has surfaced, sometimes contentiously, in other U.S. cities developing streetcar lines.