Milwaukee streetcar holds 'last weld' ceremony

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MKestreetcar1
Workers create a thermite weld to ceremonially complete the Milwaukee streetcar project.
Trains: Jim Wrinn
mkestreetcar2
Milwaukee streetcar supporters sign a section of rail that will go on display.
Trains: Jim Wrinn
MILWAUKEE — With city officials and streetcar supporters standing by, workers Monday created a thermite weld to join two sections of rail, ceremonially marking the conclusion of major construction on the 2.5 mile line known as The Hop.

Alderman Robert Bauman liked the linking to the joining of the rails in 1869 on the first transcontinental railroad. He said that the system, which is expected to begin service this fall after testing, is the first for the city in 60 years. He reminded residents that old streetcar tracks are still buried beneath asphalt on Milwaukee streets. Mayor Tom Barrett said the system would be the first with additional routes to the Walker’s Point and Bronzeville neighborhoods yet to come.

Supporters were invited to sign a piece of rail that will go on display. The first of five Brookville-built streetcars provided a backdrop to the event.

Omaha-based Kiewit Infrastructure built the line, which cost $123 million. Barrett said the route is already stimulating retail and real estate investment and development.

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