Groundbreaking ceremony held for Milwaukee County bus rapid-transit project

Rendering of a BRT station, courtesy of Milwaukee County Transit Service
Rendering of a BRT station, courtesy of Milwaukee County Transit Service.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held today to mark the start of the Milwaukee County bus rapid-transit project, a nine-mile route that will connect major employment centers in Wauwatosa and downtown Milwaukee.

The roughly $55 million East-West BRT project will operate primarily along Wisconsin Avenue, Bluemound Road and part of 92nd Street. It will have 33 stations between the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center campus in Wauwatosa and a transit concourse at The Couture near Milwaukee’s downtown lakefront.

The groundbreaking ceremony was held this morning at the northeast corner of West Wisconsin Avenue and North 27th Street.

Officials say the East-West BRT line will offer faster service to passengers through the use of battery-electric buses, dedicated lanes, raised platforms at optimized stop locations, traffic signal prioritization and other features.

It is expected to open for service by fall 2022.

The project formally received federal funding late last year. The $40.9 million federal Small Starts grant will cover nearly 80% of the project cost.

In March, Milwaukee County Transit System announced it had selected a vendor to build the electric buses that will be used on the BRT route. The contract is with Nova Bus, a Canadian bus manufacturer that’s part of Sweden-based Volvo Group. It will build up to 15 buses for the county, 11 of which will be exclusively for the BRT line. Each bus costs around $1.1 million.

Alex Zank covers commercial and residential real estate for BizTimes. Alex previously worked for Farm Equipment magazine and also covered statewide construction news at The Daily Reporter. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he studied journalism, political science and economics. Having grown up in rural western Wisconsin, Alex loves all things outdoors, including camping, hiking, four-wheeling and hunting.

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