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Marking the end of years of contentious debate, the Milwaukee Common Council yesterday approved plans to begin building a streetcar system.The city aims to break ground in late 2015 and have the system in full operation by mid-2018. The streetcar will run a 2.5-mile track from the Milwaukee Intermodal Station to the city's lower east side.The city plans to fund the $123.9 million project through a combination of tax incremental financing districts and two federal grants, according to the Milwaukee Streetcar website. An additional federal grant will cover 80 percent of the system's operating costs."We believe the streetcar not only complements a larger transit network, but it also serves as a city-building tool within a broader development plan — a plan that improves mass transit while attracting commercial and residential development in the heart of the city's tax base," Milwaukee Alderman Michael Murphy said in a prepared statement.