NewsLocal News


Barrett calls for immediate vote on streetcar expansion

Posted at 6:06 PM, May 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-29 19:06:42-04

The ongoing battle over the Milwaukee streetcar extension has Mayor Tom Barrett putting the Common Council on notice.

"The ball is in their court right now," Barrett said.

Barrett wants a vote on the proposal now, otherwise he said the project wouldn't be done in time for the Democratic National Convention.

Barrett is pushing hard to get the first section of his streetcar expansion proposal approved so the rails make it to W. Wisconsin, just a stone's throw from Fiserv Forum the host site of the 2020 DNC. He's struggling to the Common Council to back his plan.

The Hop's route currently starts and ends in the heart of downtown Milwaukee. That's one of the biggest detractors when you ask those who use the streetcar.

"I would love to see it expand to other neighborhoods," said Zach Nelson. "If they can connect the whole city I think that would be great."

"Until it expands to more places like the airport, Miller Park or more on the east side like Brady Street and to Summerfest and to UWM and to the Fiserv I think it's kind of a waste," added Brooke Bayer of Mequon.

Barrett's long term $52 million proposal would extend the rails north to the Bronzeville neighborhood and south to Walker's Point, but his first priority is getting it near the hub of the 2020 D.N.C.

"To me, this is a wonderful opportunity that we should not miss and I know that it's a contentious issue and I that there should be a lot of debate," Barrett said. "I'm asking the council to take a vote on this and to consider this so we can move forward."

Earlier Wednesday, the common council didn't take a vote on Barrett's proposal which pushes the decision back at least another next month.

"It's going to be tight and that's the timing we had," Barrett said.

Several alders oppose the extension for a variety of reasons. For some, it's taxpayer dollars. Others want commitments to community programs or to have the streetcar to go to other locations. Either way, time doesn't appear to be on Barrett's side as he wants The Hop to be a part of the city's image while its showcased on an international stage.