Milwaukee Common Council Voices Support For Streetcar, Though Final Vote Is Delayed

Plan's Opponents Delayed Approval While Seeking To Block Plan Through Ballot Measure

Milwaukee City Hall. Casey Eisenreich (CC-BY-SA).

Plans for Wisconsin’s first modern streetcar inched forward on Wednesday after Milwaukee’s city council voted in favor of the the downtown transportation project.

​Opponents of the plan, however, were able to delay final approval of the proposal through procedural moves at the city’s Common Council.

During floor debate, Council President Michael Murphy revealed his qualified support for the streetcar idea. While he acknowledged that the streetcar project “is not the second coming,” he said that it’s also unfair for opponents of the plan to describe it as being “the worst thing since Ebola.”

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Murphy then opted to pursue a middle ground between approval of the project and the demands of the plan’s opponents. He joined a majority of aldermen voting for the streetcar, but next sided with a minority that was able to delay a final vote until next month.

The delay will give a conservative coalition more time as it tries to collect enough signatures to force a binding referendum on the mass transit project in April.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said he’s disappointed to learn that some of the money for the referendum push is coming from outside the city — including from the group Americans For Prosperity, which is funded by oil executives David and Charles Koch.