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Streetcar system will not include Marquette area

Despite+a+potential+future+extension%2C+the+Milwaukee+Streetcar+system+will+not+include+Marquette+in+definite+planning.+However%2C+a+high-speed+bus+system+could+be+making+its+way+down+Wisconsin+Avenue+in+2020.+
Despite a potential future extension, the Milwaukee Streetcar system will not include Marquette in definite planning. However, a high-speed bus system could be making its way down Wisconsin Avenue in 2020.

Despite a potential future extension, the Milwaukee Streetcar system will not include Marquette in definite planning. However, a high-speed bus system could be making its way down Wisconsin Avenue in 2020.

Photo by Matthew Serafin

Photo by Matthew Serafin

Despite a potential future extension, the Milwaukee Streetcar system will not include Marquette in definite planning. However, a high-speed bus system could be making its way down Wisconsin Avenue in 2020.

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Despite a potential future extension, the Milwaukee Streetcar system will not include Marquette in definite planning. However, a high-speed bus system could be making its way down Wisconsin Avenue in 2020.

Ghassan Korban, the Milwaukee commissioner of public works, said the decision to not include Marquette on the main streetcar route is largely due to Milwaukee County’s development of a new east-west bus rapid transit route.

The design of the streetcar system must take other transportation options such as the rapid transit route into account, Korban said.

“To understand how the streetcar system would work, you have to think globally in terms of multi-modal options for the city of Milwaukee,” Korban said. “The way we’re looking at this now is in light of the fact that Milwaukee County is contemplating an east-west bus rapid transit system that runs most likely up Wisconsin Avenue.”

Bus rapid transit systems feature bus-only lanes designed to reduce travel times and traffic congestion. The bus project’s current route runs from the lakefront to Wauwatosa, cutting directly through campus.

The application for federal funding for a bus rapid transit system was submitted in September, and startup is projected for 2020. If completed, the system would be the first of its kind in Wisconsin.

“There would be a key mode on 4th and Wisconsin where the streetcar and the BRT would intersect and work off each other,” Korban said. “Depending on what the BRT route looks like in the future, we would determine whether an east-west route for the streetcar would happen.”

Though the streetcar route will not include campus in the near future, it will be free to all riders in its first year running.

Rana Altenburg, vice president of public affairs for Marquette, said the Potwatomi Hotel & Casino recently announced its sponsorship of the streetcar. Potawatomi will be paying for all rides during the first 12 months of operation.

“If we are to charge after the first year, the fare will be a dollar per ride within two hours’ worth of usage,” Korban said. “So if you want to go to a restaurant and have lunch, then hop back on the streetcar and go back to where you were, you are allowed to do that within the $1 fare.”

Construction of the streetcar route began this spring, and Korban said they are on schedule.

“We’re hitting the project very hard,” Korban said. “We’re trying to get as much as we can in one season so once we’re done there’s no repeat of closures and prolonged construction seasons.”

Construction crews will work through the winter months to have all poles and cables in place March 2018, Korban said. Testing of the streetcars will begin early 2018, and operations will begin in late fall 2018.

However, streetcar construction is a cause for concern for some students biking and driving downtown. Lucas Jackson, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said navigating the construction sites is difficult.

“The construction has been awful and already the road is difficult to navigate on Broadway and Wisconsin. Over by MSOE it’s had a road closed for weeks, and now that it’s open its the bumpiest thing,” Jackson said. “I worry about biking by it because the tracks can catch bike tires and really injure someone.”

Correction: an earlier version of this story named Rana Altenburg as the vice president of public affairs for Potowatomi Hotel & Casino. Her title has been properly changed to vice president of public affairs at Marquette. The Wire regrets this error.

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