Fed grants include $3.2 million for streetcar

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation on Thursday announced allocations of $38.9 million in federal funds for 24 transportation projects in southeastern Wisconsin, including $3.2 million for the proposed downtown Milwaukee streetcar project.

The funds are part of the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) program. CMAQ’s goal is to improve air quality with specific transportation-related projects. CMAQ funds provide up to 80 percent of total project costs, with the remainder provided by the project sponsors. WisDOT, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission jointly review and recommend award approval. Projects are evaluated based on their potential to reduce vehicular trips, promote multi-modal connections and how they complement other local transportation planning priorities.

The Milwaukee streetcar would run from the Intermodal Station through downtown to the Lower East Side. The estimated cost of the project is $65 million. The city already had nearly $55 million in federal funds for the project, prior to the Thursday announcement.

The remaining cost would be paid for with local funding sources.

City officials are still working on plans for the streetcar.

Other CMAQ grants announced Thursday by WisDOT for southeastern Wisconsin transportation projects include:
–  $9.1 million for a new express bus service along the Wisconsin Avenue, UWM and Sherman Boulevard routes in Milwaukee.
– $8.1 million for new express bus service along 27th Street in Milwaukee County.
– $5.4 million for Milwaukee County to purchase 16 new clean diesel engine buses.
– $2.3 million to replace fixed route transit buses in Waukesha.
– $1.1 million for a marketing campaign for the Amtrak Hiawatha passenger rail service between Milwaukee and Chicago.

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