Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 10:56 am
Track installation on the initial route of the Milwaukee streetcar, The Hop, is officially complete.
Milwaukee officials, construction workers, streetcar operators in training and members of the public gathered Monday for a ceremonial last weld of the tracks at Second Street and St. Paul Avenue in Milwaukee.
Tom Trokan and his wife, Nancy Trokan, drove from New Berlin to witness the moment. Tom, who is retired from the nearby post office, joined others in signing a section of rail that will be displayed along the route.
He’s not sure if he’ll ride the streetcar, but he wanted to put his name on the rail for posterity.
“I thought it was so interesting to be able to see the rail,” Tom said.
“I couldn’t be prouder for what we as a community have accomplished,” said Mayor Tom Barrett of the streetcar route completion. “We’re here today to mark a historic milestone.”
Barrett, Alderman Robert Bauman and commissioner of Public Works Ghassan Korban thanked the public, businesses and business associations downtown and in the Historic Third Ward for their patience during the construction; and the construction crews who completed the project on time and on budget, through a variety of weather conditions.
A number of employees from contractor Kiewit, as well as engineers from streetcar manufacturer Brookville and several streetcar operators in training were on hand for the event.
The Hop is under testing on the phase 1 route, and will open to the public this fall. The first year of rides will be free as a result of a sponsorship from Potawatomi Hotel & Casino.
Barrett reiterated his desire for the streetcar to connect downtown to other Milwaukee neighborhoods, including Bronzeville and Walker’s Point.
“We’re in the midst of this incredible renaissance in the heart of Milwaukee and it’s unlike anything we have seen in our lifetime. And it’s because of people like you who believe in this city, who understand the importance of the city and understand the importance of Milwaukee in particular,” Barrett said to those gathered at the event. “…people believe in this city and want to be part of the exciting energy that’s moving this city forward.”
“It’s been a difficult process. I want to reiterate my heartfelt thanks to all the citizens, workers and especially the businesses in downtown Milwaukee,” Bauman said. “We hope the reward, this brand new transportation infrastructure in downtown Milwaukee, will be worth it.”
“Anytime a public works project is completed on time and on budget is worthy of celebration. But to take the streetcar, as complex and unique as it was, and to be in charge of that project, to deliver it on time and on budget is certainly a very special day,” Korban said.