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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Streetcar construction to begin in ’11

The Tucson Modern Streetcar was recommended as the locally preferred alternative (LPA) and received unanimous approval from the City of Tucson Mayor and Council in January 2006 and April 2007. Local funding for the modern streetcar project was approved as part of the successful Regional Transportation Authority Plan vote in Pima County in May 2006.
The Tucson Modern Streetcar was recommended as the locally preferred alternative (LPA) and received unanimous approval from the City of Tucson Mayor and Council in January 2006 and April 2007. Local funding for the modern streetcar project was approved as part of the successful Regional Transportation Authority Plan vote in Pima County in May 2006.

The Tucson Modern Streetcar is set to begin construction early next year.

Connecting the UA campus to downtown, the Modern Streetcar is an electric railway system. Streetcars will follow a 3.9-mile route from the Arizona Health Sciences Center to Congress Street, according to the Tucson Modern Streetcar website.

UA has been involved in the streetcar project since its outset in 2006.

David Heineking, director of Parking and Transportation Services, represents the UA in the project.

“”We meet monthly with the City and the construction team to talk about all things streetcar,”” Heineking said.

The streetcar was originally set to operate Nov. 11, 2011. The date changed to October of 2013 after designs were finalized, according to Michael Graham, public information officer for the Tucson Department of Transportation.

“”Construction is not behind schedule,”” Graham wrote in an e-mail Wednesday. “”The earlier dates that were announced were established as overall estimated project goals.””

Tucson Department of Transportation is designing the track and stops for the streetcar route as well as seven streetcar vehicles, according to Graham.

Construction is set to begin in early 2011, but has no official start date.

“”Once final design is complete, and contracts are advertised, more detailed information on construction will be available,”” Graham wrote.

Construction will affect several streets surrounding UA, including University Boulevard, Warren Avenue, Helen Street, Second Street and Speedway Boulevard.

“”The one thing we’ve continued to ask for from the City is to have the construction done over the summer,”” Heineking said.

UA CatTran will change once service begins. The streetcar will replace the CatTran USA route, which provides service to the Ronstadt Transit Center downtown.

Heineking said the route would not be necessary once students are able to use the streetcar. “”We’re going to reallocate some resources.””

The addition of the modern streetcar is expected to help revitalize downtown Tucson, according to Michael Keith, CEO of the Downtown Tucson Partnership.

The streetcar may allow UA students to permanently impact the area through the expansion of the campus. Keith said the UA has already submitted three requests for student housing and is considering holding classes downtown.

“”I suspect the UA is going to play a major role down here academically as well as with housing,”” Keith said. “”That connection is really going to be strengthened if that occurs.””

Keith said having students live downtown is especially important for its revitalization.

“”They bring a certain energy to an area,”” Keith said. “”Somebody once described a vibrant downtown as what happens after 5 p.m.””

Heineking said the streetcar would allow a UA presence downtown.

“”The university is excited about the opportunities it gives us to expand beyond the borders we have right now,”” Heineking said.

The streetcar may also give students more access to shopping and entertainment in the downtown area.

Public health sophomore Grace McClain has a bike and a car but normally does not travel downtown.

“”I guess it’s the distance, mostly. It’s kind of inconvenient,”” McClain said. She said the streetcar would make her more likely to visit the area.

“”I’m actually from D.C., so I used the metro a lot. It was really convenient,”” McClain said. “”I’d definitely use (the streetcar).””

Some students already frequent downtown.

“”I’ve gone to the Rialto a couple of times and just to eat at the restaurants,”” said Alanna McDonald, a family studies and human development freshman who said she might try the streetcar but would not rely on the service.

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