Costs of moving utility lines for Milwaukee streetcar likely to be shared

MILWAUKEE -- The fate of Milwaukee's streetcar project could lie in a ruling over utility costs. Those wanting the utility companies to pay for moving their lines are confident they'll win. Milwaukee Alderman Nik Kovac says, "The law is clear. The city and the utilities need to work together to minimize the cost, but the cost shall be born by the utilities."

Brett Healy of the MacIver Institute, a conservative learning group, says Mayor Barrett cannot require utilities to bear the cost of moving the lines. "Why can't he go to his constituents, and ask them to pay for the project?," he said.

Healy filed a claim with the state's Public Service Commission. He says, "Asking if it was appropriate that rate payers outside the City of Milwaukee, that  they should have to pay for the utility relocation costs."

Commissioners delayed action on a final ruling on September 27th. It appears they'll require both the city and utility companies to share the cost of moving the lines.

Alderman Kovac believes if engineers can get the cost of moving the utilities down to $10 million, then the commissioners  will rule that's a reasonable amount for utilities to pay. Initial estimates from companies are more than $50 million. Kovac tells FOX6 he believes those figures are inflated.