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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Streetcar construction slows business for University Boulevard proprietors

Robert Alcaraz
Robert Alcaraz/Daily Wildcat Construction for the Tucson Modern Street Car continues to make its way down to Main Gate Square. The new development is planned to be completed by late 2013

While streets along Main Gate are almost completely closed for streetcar work, businesses along University Boulevard are feeling the impact financially, with business in some stores declining to nearly half of last year’s levels.

Waterline relocation work between Palm Drive and Highland Avenue should be finished by June 8, while the construction on Cherry Avenue between Helen Street and Speedway Boulevard is scheduled for completion on June 12. While both lanes are closed during this time, the intersection at Cherry and Helen will be maintained to help the flow of traffic.

The UA and Regional Transportation Authority are working to finish the project as soon as possible, said David Heineking, Parking and Transportation Services director.

“We certainly want to make the streetcar as accessible as possible to the UA community,” he said.

After the construction of the rails is finished, a six-month process of testing the cars will commence, Heineking added. The streetcar should be running after the start of the fall semester, but will not be open for public use until testing is finished, which is projected for the end of 2013.

“Because of regulations and safety reasons, the streetcar needs to be tested for the six month time period,” said Bill Davidson, the PTS marketing specialist.

In the meantime, some stores along these constructions sites have struggled due to excess noise and dust from construction equipment.

“Business is a disaster,” said Danny Mannheim, owner of Espresso Art Cafe. “It’s about half of what it was last summer.”

Gentle Ben’s general manager Richard Fifer has attributed the slow patronage to the lack of street parking available. While the construction has blocked the 70 parking spaces along University Boulevard, the Tyndall Avenue Parking Garage and Main Gate Parking Garage are both open for public use.

While construction has been a nuisance for business owners, Heineking remains optimistic for the final results.

“It’s going to be a great thing, not only for the university, but also businesses along the line, the economic development that’s going to occur along the line. I really see this revitalizing downtown.”

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