Yesterday's Public Service Commission ruling – which is part of a battle that pits city versus state – 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.
The City Attorney's office offered this response later in the day:
"We disagree With the Public Service Commission’s decision today on the Milwaukee Streetcar matter and will recommend an appeal. As the City has argued, the issue of Who pays the utilities’ relocation or modication costs associated With the construction of the Streetcar is an issue for the Circuit Court, not the Commission, to decide. The utilities’ 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 Commission’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 public’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 – yes – 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.
For the benefit of Wisconsin and visitors to our fine state, Milwaukee’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 I’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 Dec. 20, 2014
The James Steeno Gallery features many unique items, but his Milwaukee area maps really stand out and have caught the attention of many, including our own Nick Barth.
Published Dec. 19, 2014
The Milwaukee Coffee Guild's unique holiday offering, the "Milwaukee Coffee Passport," gets you a free 12-ounce drink at participating local coffee shops.
Published Dec. 18, 2014
Family owned and operated since 1922, A.J. Ugent Furs and Fashions features an extensive collection of furs, leathers, shearlings, woolens for men and women.
Published Dec. 16, 2014
With the holiday seasons in full swing, OnMilwaukee.com, our ShopLocal marketplace and Local First Milwaukee have teamed to offer many unique, local items and deals. Here's the first one.
Published Dec. 10, 2014
The SURG Restuarant Group and owners Michael Polaski and Omar Shaikh have brought together some unique "once in a lifetime" opportunities all to help a friend and military leader with more than 20 years of service.
Published Dec. 9, 2014
Come on, good people of Milwaukee, let's put an end to the phrase "I'll do the ...." It's "may I please have (or order) the honey wheat bagel?" "Thank you." That's how you place your order.
Published Dec. 7, 2014
Thrillist has issued its 2014 list of "The 21 Best New Restaurants in America." And, one Milwaukee restaurant makes the cut.
Published Dec. 2, 2014
They're fun, easy to use, free for those less then 30-minute trips to meetings and a great addition to our city's transit infrastructure. But, after today, they're gone for the season.
Published Dec. 1, 2014
The Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival ornaments are one-of-a-kind keepsakes. Great gifts for family, friends, co-workers and business associates, each year features an iconic Downtown landmark cast in pewter.
Published Dec. 1, 2014
Cracked Designs brings a unique flare and fun to its posters, cards, T-shirts and more.