Expanding The Hop – The Hop
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Expanding The Hop

The vision for The Hop has always been to serve as a catalyst for economic growth, first in the heart of the city and then continuing into the surrounding neighborhoods. Our first step forward in realizing that vision is a bold proposal to expand the system, first to Wisconsin Avenue in time for the 2020 Democratic National Convention, and then into the adjacent Bronzeville and Walker’s Point neighborhoods. The documents below outline how this vision will become a reality, and how The Hop will capitalize on the progress that’s already been made and move towards an even brighter future for Milwaukee.

Vel R. Phillips Plaza

Frequently asked questions

What will this fund?


This would fund:

Wisconsin Avenue ($28M): Funding for the construction of an M-Line extension to Wisconsin Avenue before the DNC.


Bronzeville to Walker’s Point ($18.3M): Funding to bring the streetcar to City neighborhoods. An initial $18.3M to complete engineering and environmental studies of a route that would connect Bronzeville (North Ave/MLK Drive) to Walker’s Point (1st St/Pittsburgh Ave). The City would request to enter the route into a federal funding program (Small Starts) which would allow the City to seek a potential 50/50 local/federal match on the eventual overall project cost.


Walker’s Point South/West ($0.5M): An additional $0.5M is included to study route alternatives for Walker’s Point to extend south/west of 1st Street and Pittsburgh Avenue.

What is the Small Starts program?


Small Starts is part of the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program. This is a federal capital funding program for new transit projects. This funding would allow the City to request entrance into the program for the Bronzeville to Walker’s Point route. In the next year, the route would be further refined and then go through the FTA rating process to ensure the project meets the goals of the FTA before funding can be awarded for 50% of the construction cost.

Nothing’s happening at 4th and Wisconsin. How can there be incremental value?


Funding from the Tax Increment District at 4th and Wisconsin assumes a development would move forward at the site during the life of the TID.

Can you FOR SURE get the Wisconsin Avenue extension done by the DNC?


The City has been preparing for the potential DNC announcement for months prior to the official selection. The City has been working with designers, public/private utilities and a general contractor since late last year to ensure the extension could be operational by the DNC if funding is approved by Council in spring of 2019.

Will construction for this segment be re-bid?


The City is able to contract with the contractor on the initial streetcar construction because this extension was included in the original construction solicitation.

What is the status of design plans?


30% design was completed in March 2019. Final design is scheduled to be completed by September 2019.

What are the utility impacts/costs?


That is yet to be determined. The City continues to work with public and private utilities to determine what facilities are required to be relocated and how much that could cost. Final utility agreements are expected by late summer 2019.

How can the rail be delivered in time for the Wisconsin Avenue Extension?


The City has already started the process to procure special long-lead trackwork. Tangent or straight rail only requires a few months of lead time and would not delay construction.

Will this require an extra vehicle? How can we get one in time?


The existing fleet of vehicles would likely be sufficient to maintain current scheduled headways with the Wisconsin Avenue extension; however, the City continues to identify additional funding sources to purchase another vehicle. The larger extension to Bronzeville and Walker’s Point would require several more vehicles.

Will additional operators be hired?


It has not been determined if additional operators will be needed for the Wisconsin Avenue extension. Once the larger extension to Bronzeville and Walker’s Point is operational, the operations team would be required to hire approximately double the number of current of employees.

What’s happening with the Lakefront Line?


The Couture project is finalizing its funding package and as soon as construction has progressed sufficiently, the streetcar team will finish the construction to allow for L-Line operations to begin. It is anticipated that the L-Line will be operational in late 2020.

How were the “end points” (North Avenue and 1st Street/Pittsburgh Avenue) determined for this round of planning? Why not further?


The route was chosen based on detailed planning that balanced cost, benefits, ridership and competitiveness in the federal funding program. Additional decisions relative to where the route could go are needed for Walkers Point beyond 1st Street and Pittsburgh Avenue. This package would provide funds to study the routing to extend the system into the heart of Walker’s Point.

When would construction start on extensions after Wisconsin Avenue?


While the extension is only in the preliminary stages, construction on the route between Bronzeville and Walker’s Point could start some time in 2022, depending on receipt of Federal Funds and future approvals of additional local funds.

What about northern/Prospect Avenue extension that was part of the LPA/FONSI?


Extending to the East Side, while not a part of this current plan, remains in the vision for eventual streetcar extensions, once the local funding sources are more clearly identified.

How are operations going to be funded for the Wisconsin Avenue extension?


Operations and maintenance (O&M) financial planning is ongoing for the first phase and future extensions, there are a variety of sources that could be used and are being evaluated to help supplement the existing O&M funding sources of sponsorships and CMAQ, such as parking funds, additional federal funds and additional private sponsors.

Will free fares continue past this November? If not, when will fares be implemented, how will people pay and will MCTS cards work?


While Potawatomi Hotel & Casino’s sponsorship of free fares only extended through the first year of operations, the City of Milwaukee has committed to maintaining free fares into 2020. There is currently no set date for the expiration of free fares.

What’s the latest ridership data?

  • Over 200,000 rides in first three months (Nov 2018 – Jan 2019)
  • 2,109 Average Daily Rides (Nov 2018 – Jan 2019) (1,850 projected)
  • 16,409 Total rides during opening weekend (Nov. 2-4, 2018)
  • 4,882 Highest single-day total (Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018)

What’s the status of CMAQ?


The City is currently utilizing federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) funding to operate the existing system. The new Bronzeville-Walker’s Point route, when operational, would be eligible for funding under existing guidelines.

What about displacement?


The streetcar will extend downtown’s momentum to the rest of the city in an equitable and inclusive manner. The City’s recent Anti-Displacement Plan ensures that new development should not dismantle or displace existing communities and programs should be intentionally designed to ensure that historically disadvantaged groups are also able to benefit from and gain access to the wealth-building opportunities provided by new development and access to transit.

Is the federal funding guaranteed?


While the federal funding program does not represent a guarantee, it is much more predictable than other grant programs. While some projects may not get funded in their first eligible funding cycle, often times projects that meet the FTA’s standards will be funded in the second or third cycle, like the Milwaukee County East-West BRT.

How far will the extension into Walker’s Point go?


The Bronzeville to Walker’s Point route that would enter the federal funding program would travel from North Avenue and Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. Drive in Bronzeville to 1st Street and Pittsburgh Avenue in Walker’s Point. The funding also includes an alternatives analysis that would study future extensions into Walker’s Point south of 1st Street and Pittsburgh Avenue.

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