FTA awards CIG funding to Milwaukee County’s East-West BRT project

Dec. 15, 2020
A $40.9-million grant was awarded to the project, which will provide faster and more reliable transit service along the region’s busiest travel corridor.

Milwaukee County was awarded a $40.9-million grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), clearing the way for the East-West Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project to move forward.

"This $40.9 million federal grant will provide Milwaukee residents increased access to jobs, healthcare, educational opportunities and other community services," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

This Small Starts Grant Agreement (SSGA) is a significant milestone achievement in that it finalizes the federal government’s commitment to cover almost 80 percent of the $55.05-million project. Funding for the East-West BRT project is provided through FTA's Capital Investment Grants (CIG) Program, which provides funding for major transit infrastructure projects nationwide.

"FTA is proud to join our partners in Wisconsin to improve public transportation in Milwaukee," said FTA Deputy Administrator K. Jane Williams. "The East-West BRT project will provide fast and efficient service, improving mobility and travel times in this busy corridor. This federal investment is an economic boost for Milwaukee County as the project will create jobs and help communities continue to recover from the COVID-19 public health emergency."

 “We appreciate the FTA’s commitment to helping improve transit infrastructure here in southeast Wisconsin,” said Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) Managing Director Dan Boehm. “Our team has worked hard to move this project from concept to implementation. We’re looking forward to breaking ground on station construction this spring so that current and new riders will soon be able to experience the future of public transportation.”

The nine-mile East-West BRT, which is a first-of-its-kind undertaking in Wisconsin, will allow MCTS to better connect major employment, education and recreation destinations through downtown Milwaukee, Marquette University, Milwaukee’s Near West Side, Wauwatosa and the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center.

“This is great news for Milwaukee County and our state,” said Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers. “The East-West BRT will help ensure more access to reliable transportation and make it easier for folks to get to work, home and school. I appreciate the work of our local, state and federal partners to make this project possible.”

BRT passengers will enjoy more efficient, higher frequency service thanks to the utilization of battery-electric buses, dedicated bus lanes, traffic signal priority, off-board fare collection, optimized stop locations, state-of-the-art platforms that allow for easy boarding and other amenities.

Since 2016, Milwaukee County has been working collaboratively with the FTA, city of Milwaukee, city of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Milwaukee Regional Medical Center, Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, residents, businesses, non-profits and other institutions to bring this innovative project to the state.

The BRT project team recently released a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) as part of the process to secure a construction contractor. Additionally, the project team is currently working to select a manufacturer for 11 battery-electric buses. This will be the first time these ultra-modern vehicles are used in southeast Wisconsin.

Construction is slated to begin in Spring 2021, with revenue service starting as early as Fall 2022.