Milwaukee streetcar

Streetcars are rumbling back to life in cities across the country from Portland to Salt Lake City and Atlanta, with New York becoming the latest city to hop on the bandwagon. But as these new streetcars run into unexpected roadblocks, critics say this mode of transportation might not be the answer to great public transit.

New York City has an ambitious, multibillion-dollar plan to connect Brooklyn and Queens with a streetcar. It would bring convenience to residents from Red Hook, an isolated area cut off from the rest of Brooklyn by water and a major highway.

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Mayor Tom Barrett announced Monday that the U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded the city a $14.2 million grant to enable construction of the Milwaukee Streetcar's Lakefront Line.  

The Common Council approved the extension in February, along with phase 1 of the streetcar project.

The Lakefront Line will connect Cathedral Square to the lakefront, and will include a stop along the planned Couture development.  Groundbreaking on phase 1 of the project is scheduled for spring of 2016.

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The downtown streetcar project has been out of the news for a while, but momentum continues to bubble both by planners and those who want to stop future expansions of the project. For instance, the city will soon make a major purchase, according to Ald. Bob Bauman, one of the streetcar’s biggest supporters.

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Michelle Maternowski

Opponents of the downtown Milwaukee streetcar project said they're launching a petition drive to block any potential expansion of the project. That word came after a previous drive fell short of its goal, amid questions over whether it would have carried any legal weight.

Even with plans for the first phase of the streetcar moving forward, many supporters say the project really only represents the tip of the iceberg when it comes to addressing the challenges of transit in the Milwaukee area.

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Opponents of Milwaukee's streetcar project have until Thursday to turn in at least 31,000 signatures if they hope to put the issue on the ballot.

Milwaukee Streetcar

Milwaukee is moving ahead with a downtown streetcar. 

The Milwaukee StreetCar

After months of debate, the City of Milwaukee has approved a two-mile streetcar loop, which will run through downtown and the Third Ward.

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Opponents of a proposed downtown Milwaukee streetcar project are continuing to collect signatures in an effort to get the issue before voters. Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Common Council plans to hold its final up or down vote on the project at its February 10th meeting.

On Friday, 12 Common Council members signed a letter criticizing Ald. Joe Dudzik for suggesting a streetcar would be the scene of a rape or shooting.

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The Milwaukee Common Council on Wednesday voted in favor of building downtown streetcar line.

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UPDATE: Milwaukee Common Council votes to delay final vote on streetcar proposal until February 10, to allow a petition drive to continue.

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The Milwaukee Common Council is scheduled to vote on the fate of the proposed downtown streetcar project next week.

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The council put off a decision on a downtown streetcar line, at least until the next meeting, to take more time to vet the refined plan. 

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Emotions could run high this week and next as the Milwaukee Common Council considers a streetcar for downtown.

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Milwaukee Alderman Bob Donovan wants voters to decide whether the city can borrow money for the streetcar project.

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