Milwaukee begins $55 million transit project expected to help 9,500 commuters

NOW: Milwaukee begins $55 million transit project expected to help 9,500 commuters

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- City, county, state and federal leaders all converged in Milwaukee Thursday, June 10, to announce a new transportation system. 

Ground was broken at 27th and Wisconsin on the East-West Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. It's expected to link many of the most traveled locations in the area including downtown, Marquette University, Wauwatosa and the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center. 

In all, this will be a nine-mile route. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said areas like Milwaukee's Near West Side, where he grew up, need better options for fast transportation.

"Why do the poorest of the poor have to use transportation that takes hours to get the service that they need," Barrett said.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) expects the route will serve more than 9,500 weekday commuters by 2025. The price tag is $55 million. Alderman Robert Bauman said the project helps fix an exodus of certain resources from Milwaukee over the decades.

"The migration, particularly of medical facilities and educational facilities to suburban communities, which has left a truly lasting, and I might add, negative impact on this neighborhood," Bauman said.

"I've always promised that we're going to fix the darn roads. That's shorthand for we're going to fix our darn roads and take care of our infrastructure. From our roads and bridges to our public transit options, to investing in pedestrian and bike routes. That's what fix the darn roads means," said Gov. Tony Evers. 

Evers said "connecting the dots" of the city also will provide an economic boost.

"And that's perhaps the most important thing, now than ever, for our workers and the communities in the entire state to bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic."

Construction is expected to be finished by the end of 2022. 

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