MILWAUKEE -- Construction for Milwaukee's streetcar project is set to begin in early April -- and start on St. Paul Ave.
Officials with the general contractor say steel rails will be delivered to the city in late March for the entire streetcar route. Those rails will be delivered to key parts in the city -- and clear the way for the construction.
"It will be very similar to street construction. If you didn't know it was a streetcar, you'd think it's just some kind of road construction job going on until the rails appear," said Mike Ethier, Kiewit Infrastructure -- which has been hired to construct the system.
Construction of the streetcar route will move throughout the city through 2017 and into 2018.
The City has is now seeking a partner to operate the system. The Phase 1 route is slated to begin serving area residents, workers and visitors in late 2018 with the Lakefront Line extension launching service in 2019.
Officials say there will be some inconvenience and partial street closures during the process. But they are working with businesses and others to try to minimize the impact.
The streetcar project will be primarily funded through grants, tax district financing and some federal funds. It was approved by the Milwaukee Common Council in February 2015.
Rail delivery and welding
- 474 80-foot “sticks” of rail for tracks along the Phase 1 route will be delivered in March in batches over one to two weeks to five “drop” locations along the route (see map below for locations).
- The steel rails will be welded at each drop into longer track sections of up to 320 feet in length before being installed in streets. The first welding will start at the drop west of the Amtrak station on St. Paul Avenue shortly after delivery. Welding will then move to the other drops, with all welding for Phase 1 completed over about four weeks.
- Actual track installation in the roadway is expected to begin in April 2017 on W. St. Paul Ave. between Plankinton and 4th St. Track will be installed on other parts of the route starting later this spring and continue through 2018 (see map for construction zones and preliminary timeline).
- To install the rail, trenches will be dug in the roadway 26-inches deep, and approximately 8- to 16-feet-wide; the rail is laid; concrete is poured around it; and asphalt is used to match the existing roadway outside the track zone, leaving the tracks flush with the roadway. (The width of the trench varies depending on whether one or two track slabs are being constructed.)
Foundations for overhead contact system (OCS) poles
- In spring, crews will also begin drilling and pouring foundations for some of the poles that will carry the cabling for the overhead contact system (OCS) that brings power to the vehicles throughout the route. The OCS poles and cabling will be installed at a separate time to be determined. During track construction, utility crews will continue to rebuild and relocate facilities as needed.
- Milwaukee residents will be employed on much of the construction. The project has a goal of employing at least 40% Milwaukee residents (RPP) and contracting 21% DBEs (Disadvantaged Business Enterprises).
- The city is working closely with business associations, businesses and property owners to make travel and access as easy as possible during construction, as it does with other road construction projects.