Yesterday's Public Service Commission ruling â€“ which is part of a battle that pits city versus state â€“ seems counterproductive to building more usable and connected transit system. In case you missed it, the decision basically said that utilities, which use publicly financed roads for free (as we all do), should be given different treatment for Milwaukee-based improvements like the streetcar. You can read more about it and form your own opinion here.Â
The City Attorney's office offered this response later in the day:
"We disagree With the Public Service Commissionâ€™s decision today on the Milwaukee Streetcar matter and will recommend an appeal. As the City has argued, the issue of Who pays the utilitiesâ€™ relocation or modication costs associated With the construction of the Streetcar is an issue for the Circuit Court, not the Commission, to decide. The utilitiesâ€™ obligation to relocate or modify their facilities at their expense is derived from state law, not a municipal regulation that the Commission may invalidate. Therefore, the Commissionâ€™s decision does not end the controversy over Whether the utilities must pay the costs they might incur to modify or relocate their own facilities so as not to obstruct the publicâ€™s use of the public right-of-way."
This "issue" isn't about whether there should be modern transportation in our state's largest city. Milwaukee's elected officials, Downtown leaders, businesses, transit riders, citizens and visitors have decided there should be. The question at hand is who should pay to move the underground utilities.
Yesterday, We Energies and AT&T seem to have won a good deal that helps control their costs. No matter where this ends, I'd like to see We Energies step up and make this project a priority. As a rate payer, Downtown property owner and concerned civic mind, I think they need to work with the city to get the engineering done ... quickly. And everyone should be reasonable in determining the costs. So, how about it?
Let's move modern transit to the top of everyone's list, including We Energies. They have a chance here to be a true leader in helping to build a better Downtown. For the utility company, this is for the good of the whole community, including their customers and investors, who will sell electricity to the streetcar and â€“ yes â€“ make money from it.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett put it this way, "In order to drive the costs down further, we expect even more cooperation from the utility companies than we have had to date."
As for the streetcar project's momentum, just last week the City of Milwaukee received a $3.18 million grant, approved by federal transportation officials, the regional planning body and officials from the Wisconsin Departments of Transportation and Natural Resources that helps continue to move the project forward.Â
For the benefit of Wisconsin and visitors to our fine state, Milwaukeeâ€™s moving forward with a streetcar. In addition, the Downtown trolley is back this summer and other options like Uber Black and Lyft are here now, too. Cars are great. Options are good; they all work well together.
As Iâ€™ve written before, transportation isn't a Republican or Democratic or city or state issue; it's a simple, quality-of-life measure. And, it's about innovation and improvement in our community.
mlaskin, nobody (including the Mayor) says people should park downtown, and then take the streetcar AND bus. What we are saying is that people who are ALREADY downtown (at work, staying in a hotel, living there, or driving in from the 'burbs) who need to travel WITHIN downtown can use it. Additionally, people who can't find reasonably priced parking near their downtown destination could park elsewhere and take the streetcar ($2 round trip, $1 if 65+) to their destination.
Those destinations DO include a university (MSOE), the lakefront (at Brady), and attractions (Bradley Center, Arena, Convention Center, Public Museum, Third Ward, Pabst Theater, Cathedral Square, etc).
Bill Sell | April 27, 2014 at 7:19 p.m. (report)
Milwaukee is not inventing the streetcar; we are late to this modern technology. It works in other cities that have given the streetcar decades of thought and continue to add rail.
What is novel is that WE Energies seems to be stuck in some kind of obsession with promoting fossil fuel gulping cars as the mode of operation downtown, when their mission is to sell electricity and, with new customers like the streetcar, keep our rates down
It works in a lot deeper snow than 2 inches, Milwaukee used to have streetcars all over.
I am still trying to understand does this lemon work in two inches of snow?
I agree. A streetcar that goes nowhere. Barrett said people could pay to park downtown, pay to get on the streetcar and then pay to ride a bus to get where they need to from where the street car left you off. Its route services nothing, none of the Universities, no attractions, no Lakefront. What is the use of it?
Show me the other Talkback
6 comments about this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Jeff Sherman
Published July 24, 2016
Agents and their families flock to Milwaukee every year this week, and each year I love the buzz that's created by adding 11,000 visitors to Downtown Milwaukee. As a community, we need to champion the corporations that choose Milwaukee as their home, so thanks NM!
Published July 15, 2016
Curious minds want to know who is behind a regular bakery bonanza in Downtown Milwaukee. Several residents in the neighborhood tell me that streets and bridges are consistently laced with multiple bakery items several times per week.
Published July 12, 2016
There's something missing this week: the energy, buzz and excitement that only Summerfest brings. As the state's economic and entertainment center, Milwaukee gets most of the love, but with healthy arteries and suburbs, everyone wins when Summerfest shines.
Published July 2, 2016
Sure, he played the exact same encore as he did the last time he was in Milwaukee. But on this near perfect Summerfest night, Blake Shelton was different - different in that he's now a much bigger star, which he used to his advantage Friday night.
Published June 28, 2016
The fest that made Milwaukee famous, Summerfest is here. Jeff Sherman loves it. It means energy, 50-90,000 new people Downtown every day, good music, food and more. It's great, and it gets better every year. Here are his music picks.
Published June 23, 2016
Check out the latest podcast from Bill Simmons featuring Jimmy Butler - and, germane to us here, including several Marquette and Milwaukee mentions. In fact, Butler says several times "I love Milwaukee," citing his days and degree at Marquette.
Published June 21, 2016
Former Milwaukee Bucks guard Ray Allen and his wife have opened one of the country's first all-organic "fast food" restaurants in Miami. Called Grown, it's getting rave reviews on Facebook, and, from the photos I've seen, I want to eat there right now.
Published June 11, 2016
We're a few months in, so here are six things I'd change about the Milwaukee area's newest Metro Market store, on Oakland Avenue in Shorewood. The better you are, Metro Market, the more of our money you'll get!
Published June 7, 2016
There's growth everywhere in Downtown Milwaukee, but still opportunities and eyesores. For me, these four spaces have been vacant for too long. I see them all nearly everyday. Let's all chime in and help the owners or leasing agents find the right new tenant.
Published May 25, 2016
The "Best Bars in America" feature has been around since 2006. And - of course - a lot has changed on the drinking scene here and in every city in America. One change, no Milwaukee bars appear on this year's list.