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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Tucson reviews rail bids

Tucson+reviews+rail+bids

The City of Tucson is gearing up for the next phase in its Modern Streetcar project: construction.

Several companies submitted their cost proposals for the project to the City of Tucson on Jan. 17. The lowest bid came in at about $56 million from Old Pueblo Trackworks. If the company’s plan is approved, construction will begin in mid-March, according to Shellie Ginn, program manager for the project.

The budget for the modern streetcar is nearly $200 million. About $36 million has been spent so far, according to a recent update on the project’s website. A majority of the funding for the project comes from the Regional Transportation Authority and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The streetcar line will start just west of I-10 and travel through the downtown area and onto Fourth Avenue. From there, it will turn onto University Boulevard and pass through campus via Second Street, ending at the Arizona Health Sciences Center. Rather than tearing things up along the 3.9 miles of track all at once, the line will be constructed in three-block segments, Ginn said.

UA Parking and Transportation Services is collaborating with the city to ensure the construction process has a minimal impact upon the UA campus, according to David Heineking, director of PTS. Building the streetcar line will interfere most with accessibility to key areas surrounding Second Street, including the Second Street Parking Garage and the loading dock of the Student Union Memorial Center, Heineking said.

“People are still going to need to get downtown, people are still going to need to get to the university, Fourth Avenue is still going to have businesses open, so it will be a big coordination effort to get everything happening in that relatively small time period,” Heineking said.

According to Ginn, the streetcar line could be under construction through June 2013. Ideally, most of the line that travels through the UA will be built during summer, winter and spring breaks, Heineking said.

Once the project is near completion, a portion of the line along Fourth Avenue and University Boulevard will be used to test the system and train drivers, Ginn said. By October 2013, Tucson’s Modern Streetcar should be running and open to the public.

The system will include six vehicles that will travel with traffic, just like buses. There will be 17 stops along the route and the streetcars will run from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m., according to the project’s website.

Tucson’s Modern Streetcar will enhance the city’s already existing public transportation, Sun Tran and CatTran, according to Bill Davidson, marketing manager of Parking and Transportation Services. The streetcar will replace the CatTran’s “teal” route and connect to others throughout the campus.

“We’re going to be able to nicely integrate the systems so that they’ll be seamless,” Davidson said.

In addition to building upon the current transit system, the streetcar will connect the university area and downtown Tucson, allowing for economic growth, Heineking said.

The UA plans to build two student housing complexes along the route, and companies like Unisource are installing facilities near the line to take advantage of the streetcar.

“We’re two years away from this thing opening up and there’s already people building stuff,” Heineking said. “The end result, I hope, is a really vibrant downtown and a great university and everything in between, and the street car just supporting it all.”

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