Thursday, January 24, 2013

Milwaukee streetcar plans plod ahead

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Pro-rail advocates and officials in the city of Milwaukee, continuing to battle anti-rail partisans in the city's namesake county and the state of Wisconsin, continue to plan the start of streetcar right-of-way construction, now set for early 2014.

City officials have filed plans with the state Public Service Commission for related work on adjacent or underlying utilities, including water pipes and electrical conduits, according to local media.

The PSC is overseeing disputes over the cost of moving utilities for the $64.6 million streetcar project, and who should be held accountable. Companies involved in the case include We Energies, AT&T Wisconsin, and American Transmission Co. A similar dispute continue to dog streetcar construction in Cincinnati, though progress is ongoing despite unresolved differences.

Last September, members of the PSC said they are considering making both the city and utility companies share the cost, but the commission did not make a final decision.

Milwaukee was awarded $51.9 million in federal funds last Dec. 31; the city expects to select a contractor for design and engineering by the end of this month.