There's quite a bit of activity on the corner of Market and Wells Streets lately, what with the lighting of the city holiday tree and the beginning of deconstruction work on the BMO Harris Bank parking structure. But there are also some changes in the works on the northeast corner of that intersection.
Lately, some landscaping was removed and a concrete foundation laid behind a chainlink fence.
The foundation is for one of three Traction Power Substations (TPSS) that will help run The Hop streetcar system, the first phase of which will be online next year.
Though City Engineer Jeff Polenske says there are no drawings of what the substations will look like, he did describe them for me.
"The Traction Power Substations will be approximately 14 feet by 40 feet and 14 feet in height," he says. "The TPSS being installed in the open space at the north east corner of Market Street and Wells Street will be located towards the back, adjacent to the small parking lot behind the 809 (Broadway) Building.
An aerial view of the Market and Wells site.
According to Polenske, the TPSS will be a simple rectangular structure with brick-like facades on the south, north and west sides. Several metal access doors will be on the east side of the building, which faces in toward the DPW parking lot on the site.
"The concrete foundation that the TPSS will be installed upon is now in place and only takes up about one tenth of the site. The remainder of the site will be returned to public green space after the TPSS is installed."
Polenske says there will be three TPSS for the streetcar. One will be next to to The Hop’s Operation Maintenance Facility (OMF) – where cars will be cleaned, repaired, maintained and stored – which is currently being constructed beneath I-794, adjacent to the Stone Creek Coffee roastery and cafe, on North 5th Street and West Clybourn Avenue.
A third TPSS will go up on Cass Street, south of Ogden Avenue. All will be roughly the same size and of a similar design, visually speaking.
According to Polenske, site prep work has been completed for the three TPSS and installation on the one at the Operation Maintenance Facility will begin January. The other two are slated to be completed in spring.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.