MATC Primed to See 6th Street Transformed

Redevelopment project for busy thoroughfare next to Downtown Milwaukee Campus gets green light

Mark Feldmann,

March 25, 2024

6th Street Plan

Sixth Street — one of the main thoroughfares bordering Milwaukee Area Technical College’s Downtown Milwaukee Campus — will become safer, smoother and a lot more scenic thanks to a $36 million federal grant.

On Wednesday, March 13, President Joe Biden visited Milwaukee and announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation had awarded the City of Milwaukee the money to rebuild Sixth Street through downtown and several surrounding neighborhoods.

See TV coverage of President Biden’s Milwaukee appearance

The street marks the eastern edge of  MATC’s downtown campus, running from Juneau Avenue past the Technical (T) Building, along the Fiserv Forum and past the Main (M) Building to Street Street.

Under the plan, a 2.6-mile stretch of Sixth Street between National and North avenues would be transformed into a “complete street” suitable and safe for walkers, bikers and drivers. 

The refurbished street also will safely link historic Black communities such as Bronzeville and Halyard Park in the north, Hispanic/Latino/a communities such as Walker's Point in the south, and the historic and industrious Menomonee Valley to jobs, public spaces, and the region's intermodal hub.

“We are excited that an integral part of our Downtown Milwaukee Campus will be part of this ambitious project,” said MATC President Vicki J. Martin, Ph.D., “The project invests in several historically disadvantaged communities and will provide mobility, safety and economic benefits throughout the corridor. It also creates safer streets and encourages climate-friendly forms of transportation.”

In September 2023, MATC administrators wrote a letter supporting the application for funds from the DOT’s Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods Grant Program.

The newly funded project aligns with the college’s Facilities Multiyear Plan, addresses safety concerns of high-speed traffic and continues the college’s investment in the community, Dr. Martin wrote in the letter.

“This street serves as an artery for Milwaukee and many of MATC's students live within a 3-mile radius,” Dr. Martin wrote. “A complete 6th Street will improve mobility and safety for multiple nearby communities that have been systemically burdened with a history of disinvestment and damage from the construction and expansion of freeways.” 

In the 1960s, construction of Interstates 94 and 43 divided nearby neighborhoods, and Sixth Street was systematically widened to prioritize car traffic.

Funds from the project will be used to  narrow many parts of the street, reduce the number of right-turn lanes, purchase and install landscaping, add separate bicycle and transit lanes, and enlarge bus shelters.

“Investments like this have a very positive impact on Milwaukee neighborhoods and the entire city,” Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson said in a statement.

About MATC: Wisconsin’s largest technical college and one of the most diverse two-year institutions in the Midwest, Milwaukee Area Technical College is a key driver of southeastern Wisconsin’s economy and has provided innovative education in the region since 1912. More than 30,000 students per year attend the college’s four campuses and community-based sites or learn online. MATC offers affordable and accessible education and training opportunities that empower and transform lives in the community. The college offers more than 180 academic programs — many that prepare students for jobs immediately upon completion and others that provide transfer options leading to bachelor’s degrees with more than 40 four-year colleges and universities. Overwhelmingly, MATC graduates build careers and businesses in southeastern Wisconsin. The college is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.