Ald. Bob Donovan launches online effort in fight against streetcar

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Alderman Bob Donovan unveiled a new plan on Thursday, August 16th to derail the proposed downtown streetcar project -- over a year after it was approved by the Milwaukee Common Council and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

Ald. Donovan is convinced 70% of city residents do not support the streetcar project. Donovan held a news conference Thursday to talk about a new online petition he says will broaden the ability for those who are opposed to the project to sign on. The petition can be found on a new website called "A Streetcar named Disaster."

"Why are we so afraid to get some input from the very people we're supposed to be representing?" Donovan said.

To date, Donovan says he has collected more than 3,000 signatures in opposition to the streetcar. The alderman expects the new online petition to be more successful at collecting signatures.

City officials are not relenting. A spokesperson for the Department of City Development tells FOX6 News, "A streetcar makes sense for Milwaukee. Cities all across the country - led by people of all political persuasions - have moved forward with various modern transportation projects. Those cities are now enjoying the benefits that Milwaukee has yet to realize."

Supporters of the streetcar project say it will help boost the economy downtown, as well as improve public transportation.

"I know what will happen if we listen to his mischaracterizations. We will lose jobs, we will lose economic investment and it will be bad for public transit," 3rd Dist. Alderman Nik Kovac said.

The streetcar project was approved in July 2011 by the Milwaukee Common Council in a 10-5 vote. The cost of the project is expected to approach $65 million. Donovan, however, says that money should instead be put toward road improvements. He believes it could create as many as 1,000 jobs.

If the project goes as planned, construction of the streetcar line would begin in fall 2012 and be complete by fall 2014. 

Donovan plans to introduce a new effort to put the issue on a city-wide referendum by September.

Monitor FOX6 News and for updates on this developing story.

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