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Milwaukee shops fear streetcar testing will hurt business

Milwaukee will soon see the streetcar out on the roads as testing is expected to start as early as Monday.

The first streetcar will run on W St. Paul Avenue from N. 4th Street to N. Plankinton Avenue for testing. Traffic will be limited in the area during the test on Monday as the tracks will be fenced off. Project Manager Darryll Simpson said the streetcar will be tested outside for more than 600 miles of test runs without passengers. Simpson is excited to see the streetcar on the roads.

“I want to get it out on the alignment so you guys can have great service,” Simpson said.

However, some local shops worry the testing could be bad for business. The streetcar testing will take place just a block away from Stone Creek Coffee. 

“There's a chance we'll see a decline in business,” Master Barista Elizabeth Merkel said. “If you don't have access to the street, or a street going down a certain way it can be frustrating.”

Several bus routes will be detoured starting Monday morning through June.

“We appreciate our riders patience, especially through downtown Milwaukee passengers because they've seen a lot of detours related to the streetcar,” Brendan Conway with the Milwaukee County Transit System.  

But Milwaukee County Transit System believes their bus riders have gotten used to delays.

“No one likes long construction projects, but they're also excited to see what it's going to be and get on it,” Conway said.

As for local businesses, they're looking forward to the end of the construction and testing and the beginning of the streetcar era.

“It really negatively impacts the business which is really frustrating and sad because it's totally out of our control,” Merkel said.


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