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Streetcar construction affecting some businesses

Mayor Tom Barrett has promised big things from the city's streetcar project.

But some businesses that line the route tell us construction is breaking their bank.

Signs reminding people that stores are open can be seen as construction continues on the Milwaukee streetcar.

The roadwork is affecting business owner Michael Waterfield’s bottom line.

"A significant decline in business. People get wind of 'oh yeah don't go downtown. Or the negativity to go downtown," says  Waterfield. “You grit your teeth and kind of hope it goes along."

The 128 million dollar project is still in its first phase, with several areas downtown, on the east side and the third ward under heavy construction.

Officials say people can start riding the rails next year, but for some, it seems as though there's no end in sight.

"A lot of people did complain about the lack of parking."

Downtown Books owner Keith Padgot considers his business a tourist hotspot.

Although he hears the complaints, he's looking on the bright side.

"The amount of my business that depends on tourists has increased. If it increases the tourist factor and people see that I’m here then I’m optimistic about it," he says.

In the meantime, Waterfield is working overtime to bring in more business.

"We're kind of beefing up our marketing. Getting flags and banners so at least if the street is still blockaded off, saying 'hey, we're still open,”' said Waterfield.

Statement from Milwaukee Public Works Commissioner Ghassan Korban:

"We’re pleased to report that streetcar track installation is winding down. It's about three-quarters complete, and we should have the great majority of track installed by year’s end. In the last few weeks, we’ve reopened more lanes and streets, such as the block in front of the Public Market, and more reopenings are on their way."

"As with other public works projects, we appreciate the community's patience and apologize for any inconveniences. To learn about current streetcar construction plans, visit www.themilwaukeestreetcar.com."


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