Public Service Commission Issues Final Decision on Proposed Milwaukee Streetcar

Aug 29, 2014

The City of Milwaukee cannot force utilities to cover the cost of relocating power lines, to accommodate a downtown streetcar.

The Wisconsin PSC made that final determination on Friday, after opponents of the project challenged the city's plan.

Milwaukee leaders want to use federal money to build a streetcar line that would loop the east side, Third Ward and Intermodal Station downtown. They have maintained that state law requires utilities to relocate infrastructure to make room for public transportation projects. The cost, in this case, is estimated at upwards of $20 million.

Opponents challenged the plan, claiming that some costs associated with a Milwaukee streetcar would unjustly be passed along to a wide swath of utility customers.

A group that fought the city on the issue, The Wisconsin Institute of Law & Liberty released comments on the PSC's decision that read, in part: "The City has admitted that there is no room in its federally-funded project budget to pay utility costs. Perhaps it is time for the City to let Milwaukee taxpayers know that the money for this part of the project – and it is a lot of money - will come out of their pockets.”