Construction for Milwaukee’s streetcar project to begin in early April

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MILWAUKEE -- Construction for Milwaukee's streetcar project is set to begin in early April -- and start on St. Paul Ave.

street car project in MilwaukeeOfficials 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.

CLICK HERE to learn much more about the streetcar project

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.

Guideway/track construction

  • 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.

CLICK HERE to read FAQs about the streetcar construction project


    • hippiessmell

      Definitely less car jacking but more armed and strong armed robbery on the train.
      This pink elephant will be Milwaukee’s version of the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority). There’s at least one crazy person and/or robbery on every CTA train.

  • Thomas Paine

    What a waste. Surface roads are crumbling and there isn’t enough money to fix them. What’s worse is that the trolley will never be able to maintain itself financially. Milwaukeeans drive cars. Just look at the Milwaukee County Transit System. It is always in deficit and in a budget crisis. It exists only due to the massive infusion of state and federal tax dollars. Once built, the operating costs of the trolley system will be tremendous and it will shut down within a few years unless bailed out by taxpayers. Barrett doesn’t care because he will be long gone. Mark my words…

  • hippiessmell

    Check list for items Milwaukee does not have funds to repair/replace
    1. Crumbling domes covering the botanical parks – check
    2. City Hall is still sinking last time I checked
    3. Crumbling roads, especially in the north and northwest side of town
    4. A pervasive crime problem to include car jackings, robberies, etc.

    Check list for items Milwaukee has funds for.
    1. A street car system in which only yuppie white liberals will utilize.

  • Harley Quinn

    I can’t wait for Mayor Barret’s crime fighting trolley to be built and take the prisoners to the new Buck’s Correctional facility. I heard they sold that land for $1.00 to a few billionaires. That was such a smart move! Maybe they can house all of Chief Flynn’s mistresses that he cheats on his wife with there.

  • Huh !

    Simple question…….Can Anyone explain the benefit of this train to nowhere ?
    If it was from large (North,South and West) parking lots to downtown, like Lincoln Park, Airport and Zoo for example I could see that reducing traffic and parking downtown. But all this does is putt around downtown adding traffic woes.

  • Mlb

    Horrible idea for Milwaukee Barrett should be ashamed of himself Milwaukee’s been slowly going downhill and it’s been under Democratic rule since 1960 coincidence I don’t think so

  • Xxx

    like my father always said it’s easy to spend money when it’s not yours Barrett sure likes wasted money between this and the City of Milwaukee IDs for the illegal immigrants this moron should be run out of town

  • Chucky2

    A solution looking for a problem. At least they will never have to repaint the seats since they will be empty most of the time.


    An absolute embarrassment to a once proud city. A light weight bus stuck on a track. What happens in winter? In January If on public transit I don’t care if it is a bus or a trolley Eye sore of poles & wires? What happens when one of the several thousand poles are knocked down? Operators on each car? Security? Maintenance staff on duty when line is running? Service trucks & Electricians for this disaster will not come cheap. It is just incomprehensible that this is happening. It goes nowhere!!! It is impossible that this farce could come close to self supporting. Just deck out a few buses to look like a trolley. They could go to where ever events are happening in the city. A direct trolley look alike from downtown or east side to the Zoo on weekends would be fun. With so many financial needs in this city it is just insanity that this is happening.


    This just proves this mayor is totally off his trolley!!! Tom do you read these??? Nobody wants your trolley or a streetcar named Toms desire.This is one everyone will be laughing about for years. Must have got the idea by watching too much Mr. Rogers-you really are a nutbag!!!!


      Why I’m glad I don’t live in Milwaukee-Love the city but this is a COMPLETE WASTE OF MONEY.
      Now if the city had more going for it (which the tourism dept is trying to make happen??? -and the city has ALOT going for it but with the budget and everything else that the city needs-this money could be spent on alot better things along with the $$$$ expenses this will cost in the long run- this was not a wise decision and will end the mayors tenior. I would like some feedback on how long this CHOO CHOO will last-10-20 years?? and how much will it add extra costs besides what it was budgeted for. PLEASE REPLY!!!
      A great idea for a bustling town but Milwaukee isn’t there-yet…… this won’t draw people to milwaukee due to it. Everytime I see any news reports on this-from the initial inception, I keep thinking of the Simpson’s episode- “””MONORAIL MONORAIL MONORAIL!!!!!!!!” This is what it will end up as… A complete waste of money that could be spent on more important issues-Like crime fighting and fixing streets -or how about the lead pipe problem that has recently surfaced!!!!!-Will milwaukee end up like FLINT MI?? The city of milwaukee gov’tnhas gotten out of hand….. And Barrett along with “ABLE” need to go… Why I live up in the northern subs and laugh at all the crap milwaukee has to deal with- I feel sorry for those that will have to deal with it. At least there is a chance with Clarke “sticking to his guns”

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