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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Streetcar funding deficit reduced

The modern streetcar project’s funding gap has shrunk from $26 million to $10 million, officials announced at Thursday’s Regional Transportation Authority meeting.

However, the new type of rail, T rail, replacing the girder rail will now require modifications in the original design.

The girder rail, a lighter type of rail, is used on the majority of streetcars operated in the U.S.

However, none of the American steel mills produce that type of rail, which caused the city to switch to the domestically produced T rail, explained Jim Glock, director of Tucson Department of Transportation.

“”It is also the rail we utilized for the Fourth Avenue underpass, a viable alternative,”” he said.

Glock said after last week’s meeting with the Federal Transit Administration for their quarterly review of the project, some issues and challenges were brought to the table.

In addition to the edits in design, the T rail is slightly deeper, requiring certain tests be done to ensure that the rail functions properly and does not make any noise or vibration among the rails.  

Glock estimates the new cost of the project at $180 million rather than the original $196 million after cost revaluations.

“”There are a lot of layers of oversight, a lot of layers of quality assurance and quality control that you don’t usually see on a locally funded project overall,”” he added.

Michael Barton, vice president of HDR Engineering Inc., says he expects a minor delay in the project, but anticipates getting back on schedule quickly, adding that the design is about 60 percent complete.

“”We think the domestically procured rail may be cheaper, the track work might be a little more expensive but not a major cost impact by switching the rail section,”” Barton said.

Tim Ahrens, who works on the financial team for the project, said the Regional Transportation Authority is the largest contributor with $75 million.

Marcheta Gillespie represents the department of procurement for the city of Tucson, which is responsible for doing all the acquisitions, including negotiating for the streetcar and constructing line segments. Those will all be sourced, solicited and awarded through that office.

“”We work with the rest of the team to put contracts in place and once they are in place we make sure we remain in budget and on schedule,”” Gillespie said.

The only contract being administered is the vehicle contract with Oregon Iron Works Inc., she said, and that is within budget and on schedule.

The rest of the line segments will go out once the city gets authorization from the Federal Transit Administration to begin construction.

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