Milwaukee Intermodal Station: The Gateway to the City

December 10, 2014 2 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Metro Jacksonville's Robert W. Mann uses Milwaukee's Intermodal Station as an example of how to plan for a transportation center. Will the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) and city leaders pay attention?


I want to approach this from a different angle in the hopes that some of it actually get's through to the generally rail-ignorant (though through no fault of their own) folks at JTA, FDOT and the City of Jacksonville.

Revised Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center (JRTC) Layout. A passenger rail station on the south side of the Prime Osborn Convention Center would be added at a later date. To learn more about the JRTC click HERE.

In November 2007, following rules laid down in 1916,  Milwaukee, WI, with a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) 33% larger than Jacksonville's, remodeled a 1965 vintage, 'dog ugly' station facility renamed the 'Milwaukee Intermodal Station.' The $16.9 million renovation included a glass atrium addition to the main waiting room and improved space for Amtrak ticketing and motorcoach (bus) passenger facilities. This state-of-the-art, single facility was built for a fraction of the proposed Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center's (JRTC) estimated costs.

Let's pick the Milwaukee Intermodal Station apart using the master work on major terminals: 'Passenger Terminals and Trains,' 410 pp by John A. Droege, McGraw-Hill, 1916. Droege was the VP and GM of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, which carried a volume of passengers that would make Atlanta's or Chicago's airports blush with envy. This book has been in my personal library since it's re-re-re-introduction in 1969, forwarded by George W. Hilton and published by Kalmbach Publishing of Milwaukee, WI.  

A true intermodal terminal has scalable capacity, sustainable savings, and serves as both an economical and environmental solution to a scattered collection of stations.

The layout of the article below:
A critique of stations around the USA in the 1916 text defining the best practices for the construction and flow of a major terminal.

Followed by
Photos and comments of how Milwaukee Intermodal meets those demands.

Followed by
Comments based on the JRTC design in contrast to Milwaukee and the 1916 textbook.
Throughout this article we will use the abbreviation PT&T as reference to the text book.


The new Milwaukee Intermodal Station is a good example of compact functionality.

Milwaukee's Intermodal Station began life in the worst possible way-- unwanted by the railroads and hated by the public as bland and terribly  ugly. Railroads were horribly over-regulated and strangling on a redundant physical plant and mounting losses on passenger trains. Relief, in the form of a government rescue of the American Passenger Train, was several years off and when it arrived it would resemble more of a murder then a rescue.

Milwaukee has had 3 major railroad terminals in it's history plus two major terminal sized interurban railway terminals. In 1951 The Milwaukee Electric Railway Power and Light Company shut down it's 13 track 'Public Service Building;' the terminal was the largest interurban station in the nation when it was built and the only historic station in the city to be saved. In 1963 Chicago, North Shore, and Milwaukee (high speed interurban) shuttered it's station about 2 blocks south of the Public Service Building. The magnificent brick, Gothic Everett Street (railroad) Station opened in 1887, with a stunning, skyline dominating clock tower. The clock tower was razed in 1953 as a structural hazard. The tracks leading to the old terminals crossed many surface streets and with the decline of passenger trains and traffic the city pushed The Milwaukee Road to construct a new station. Designed by the architectural firm of Donald L. Grieb and Associates of Milwaukee, the new station was dedicated on August 3, 1965, and saw its first train arrival the next day with the Morning Hiawatha. Despised from the start it was as utilitarian as a metal backyard shed and as homely as a mud fence. Within days of the opening of the new station, the Everett street station 'mysteriously' burned. Shortly after it opened, the neighboring Chicago and Northwestern Railroad gave up on it's own classic Lake Front Station and moved in with The Milwaukee Road.

The State of Wisconsin purchased the '5th degree ugly place' in 1999 and working with the Milwaukee Intermodal Partners, LLC they signed contracts for a $5.4 million rehabilitation project.

Serving as the absolute gateway to urban Milwaukee, the station serves 1.3 million annual passengers on Amtrak, Greyhound, Coach USA - Wisconsin Coach Lines, Greyhound, Indian Trails, Jefferson Lines, Lamers Bus Lines, Megabus, Badger Bus, Tornado Bus, Milwaukee County Transit System-- as well as all of the city's taxi carriers. Wi-Fi, Bike racks, lockers, drop-off lanes, All Aboard Café, vending machines, gift shop, full service Amtrak and bus ticketing and baggage services as well as the offices of the WDOT State Traffic Operations Center.

Interior of the Milwaukee Electric Railway Power and Light, Public Service Building (preserved terminal)

Interior of the Milwaukee Electric Railway Power and Light, Public Service Building (preserved terminal)

Interior of the Milwaukee Electric Railway Power and Light, Public Service Building (preserved terminal)

Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee Railway Terminal

The Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad, ("The Milwaukee Road") Evert Street Station

Chicago Northwestern Railroad, Lake Front Station

 1 2 3 NEXT