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Supporters, opponents push for and against Milwaukee streetcar

The Milwaukee streetcar is close to becoming a reality. The project has been on and off since 2010, but could get Common Council approval next month. The vote was held until the January 21st meeting, but supporters are hopeful it passes. Opponents believe it is a waste of money and doesn't reflect what the majority of Milwaukeeans want.

Dave Sobelman, who owns Sobelman's Pub & Grill, says it doesn't make sense to have a streetcar. He says the initial route ignores Milwaukee attractions.

\"It doesn't even connect our biggest attraction,\" Sobelman said. \"The lakefront, water street, brady street, north avenue, doesn't take anybody to Potawatomi, the Harley Museum.\"

Supporters like Milwaukee Downtown BID#21 say it's a perfect opportunity for the city to enhance transportation.

\"We need to have a well-connected system that accommodates [people],\" Milwaukee Downtown BID #21 Economic Development Director Matt Dorner said. \"Whether it be automobile to buses to pedestrian biking, as well as a streetcar or fixed rail option.\"

Milwaukee City Engineer Jeff Polenske has worked on this project for four years. He says Milwaukee should look at other cities that use multiple transit options.

\"They have a multi-level, multi-faceted public transportation system,\" Polenske said. \"Includes buses, fixed rail, different levels of fixed rail from streetcar to light rail, to passenger rail, commuter rail that you might see in Chicago. They all work together.\"

Alderman Bob Donovan says the plan is idiotic and a waste of money. He's still calling for a referendum.

\"I'm also calling on community organizations across the city,\" Donovan said. \"Anyone to step up and help in initiating a grassroots effort to once and for all put an end to this nonsense.\"

The Common Council will vote January 21.

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