Milwaukee doesn’t get grant for streetcar extension

City plans to try again in next funding round

A rendering of the Milwaukee streetcar, for which Milwaukee Composites plans to make the flooring.

The city of Milwaukee did not receive the $20 million federal grant that would have extended the downtown streetcar line approximately 1.2 miles to the new Milwaukee Bucks arena site.

The city found out late last week it did not receive the grant it applied for in April through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) program in April.

City officials plan to try again during the next TIGER funding round in 2017, said Ghassan Korban, commissioner of the Department of Public Works.

Streetcar rendering Mason St.
Downtown Milwaukee streetcar rendering.

“This is obviously disappointing, but we still have a major project we are moving forward with,” Korban said. “Our hope is the DOT will make the announcement introducing another cycle of grants and that will likely be in 2017. In the meantime, we have the local funding that will allow us to continue with planning and design.”

Korban believes that the 2017 application for the streetcar extension will be even stronger because local funding is secured and the plan will be “shovel ready.”

Last month, the Common Council approved a funding package that would use $20 million of tax incremental financing money to cover the matching $20 million needed to complete the extension.

The grant would have extended the streetcar route on a portion of 4th Street between Juneau and St. Paul avenues.

In October, the city received a $14.2 million TIGER grant that is being used for the lakefront line.

In 2015, the common council approved the $124 million downtown streetcar project. The cost to build the system will be paid for with about $65 million in federal funds and about $59 million from tax incremental financing districts.

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