MILWAUKEE -- Alderman Bob Donovan hosted a rally against Milwaukee's downtown streetcar project Tuesday night at Milwaukee's Serb Hall. Donovan rallied with up to 300 supporters who think the plan to bring a streetcar to downtown Milwaukee is a big mistake.
The streetcar project has been approved by the Milwaukee Common Council and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Alderman Donovan is convinced 70% of city residents do not support the streetcar project, and wants the project put to referendum.
Calling Milwaukee's streetcar plan "the epitome of government run amok" Tuesday evening, Alderman Donovan continued his attempts to keep the project from moving forward.
"This downtown streetcar fills no need. It solves no problem. It is a monumental waste of potentially $100 million or more," Alderman Donovan said.
Alderman Donovan plans to ask the Milwaukee Common Council for a cease and desist order, to keep city workers from performing any tasks related to the downtown streetcar project until a majority of Milwaukee voters approve a referendum question asking whether they support construction of the massive public project.
"We're simply asking for a referendum -- let the people decide on this very important issue that in the end, we'll be paying for anyway," Alderman Donovan said.
Donovan recently released an online petition option called “A Streetcar named Disaster." That online petition drive has garnered more than 7,000 anti-streetcar signatures to date.
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. The streetcar project has had more public meetings, more public input than any other similar sized (project) in terms of money, time and expense. Every time we have a meeting, it's two-to-one for the project," 3rd Dist. Alderman Nik Kovac said.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett says the streetcar would lead to economic growth and that Alderman Donovan is trying to resurrect a debate that's already been decided.
"He doesn`t like the result so he`s gonna keep doing what he`s doing, which is aligning himself with right-wing groups that have never cared at all about the city of Milwaukee," Mayor Barrett 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. Because the streetcar is being paid for with federally mandated money, it would take an act of Congress to have that money re-allocated.
If the project goes as planned, construction of the streetcar line would begin in fall 2012 and be complete by fall 2014.