Work on city Pulse stations still in limbo
by CYRYL JAKUBOWSKI
Few further details are available about when work will resume on the construction of Pace Pulse stations in the city leaving some residents essentially asking "What is the problem?"
The city Department of Transportation issued a stop work order recently after identifying concerns regarding permits dealing with the construction of the stations.
A city department of transportation spokesman said in October that the city was "working collaboratively with Pace to work out the permit issues." The city doesn’t usually release details about ongoing permit discussions.
"This was unexpected as we received all the necessary permits, but we’re working closely with CDOT to get their questions answered and hope to be back to work soon," Pace spokeswoman Maggie Daly Skogsbakken said in October.
Pace has not responded to numerous inquiries about further details about the delayed construction work or the status of the permits since October.
Skogsbakken said that electrical work and other concerns have delayed the construction of the stations in the past but it is not clear why the permits were pulled or when the work would resume. The agency said in the past that it hopes to finish the work by the end of the year.
Other concerns that have been identified in the past dealt with the raised platforms and sources have also indicated that the construction of the stations oversteps the scope of the permits and that water or sewer issues may also be a factor.
"I think the biggest thing was the electrical work," Skogsbakken said last month. She also said that the 14-foot tall silver vertical markers "go quite deep" into the ground.
The boarding stations will feature raised platforms, snow-melting pavement, heated shelters with seats, real-time bus arrival information, bike racks and the vertical markers designating the stations as Pulse stops.
In addition to Golf Mill and Jefferson Park, the Milwaukee Pulse route has or will have stops at Dempster, Main Street, Oakton Street, Harlem Avenue, Touhy Avenue, Devon Avenue, Austin Avenue and Central Avenue.
The northbound station on Milwaukee at Devon avenues looks completed but not operational while the southbound station has a semi-finished riser at Milwaukee and Haft Street. The north and southbound stations at Austin Avenue look completed, but need work to finish sidewalks and glass installations. The Central stations on Milwaukee for northbound and southbound buses are not completed and the southbound station by the island has a vertical marker installed that’s also not operational. Incomplete work for the northbound station by Paterno’s Pizza restaurant has been an "eyesore," some residents said.
The Pulse service shaves several minutes off the normal commute between the Golf Mill shopping center and Jefferson Park Transit Center, a route that is still covered by Pace Bus 270.
Pace implemented reductions in the Route 270 bus schedule when the Pulse service began on Aug. 11, which led to concerns from residents regarding the frequency of the old bus service.
The biggest concern from residents is the less frequent spacing of the new stations versus the old bus stops and longer walk and wait times for the old local bus.
The current Route 270 bus runs every hour versus the 10 minutes that the Pulse bus runs on weekdays in rush hour, every 15 minutes in non-peak hours until 10 p.m. and every 20 minutes until midnight.
The old Route 270 bus would run depending on time of day every 10 to 20 minutes.
The cost to ride a Pulse bus is $2 by using a Ventra card and $2.25 when paying in cash.
Editor’s note: Kevin Gross contributed.