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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Tucson Modern Streetcar construction nears end

Ryan Revock
Ryan Revock / Arizona Daily Wildcat Construction workers continue to work on the streetcar tracks at the intersection of North Granada Avenue and West Congress Street Monday morning. The workers were constructing a new median for a turning lane.

After more than a year of road closures, detours and anticipation, major streetcar construction in Tucson is nearing an end.

Throughout July and the beginning of August, construction workers are completing rail installation in small areas of downtown, as well as pour asphalt in preparation for the first streetcar vehicle, scheduled to arrive next month, according to Joe Chase, streetcar construction manager.

Rails in the Warren Avenue underpass has been installed and workers are also preparing a pedestrian walkway next to it, according to Chase, adding that the goal is to finish before school starts.

By September, the Tucson community can expect to see the first streetcar vehicle being towed along the route to check for clearance at the stops and other tolerances, said Carlos De Leon, deputy director of transportation for the City of Tucson.

The remaining vehicles will continue to be delivered on a monthly basis until all eight vehicles arrive.

Once they have each been individually tested, the vehicles will be run on a simulated route as if they were picking up passengers.

This simulation will allow operators to know the schedule, De Leon said.

“You’ll see all the vehicles out there like if they were delivering service for a period of time,” De Leon said. “It’s really more of a training and for us to get ready for opening day.”

However, benches for the stops will not be installed until later.

“The furniture we’re going to hold off installing because we prefer to have that in storage and not have it damaged until we’re ready to roll out,” De Leon said. “But you’ll see the stations be dramatically improved.”

Though construction was delayed last year after unmarked utility lines were found downtown, Chase said they have been fortunate to not have any major complications.

“Since then,” Chase said, “I mean, we’ve had our issues and our problems but we’ve been able to work through them pretty well, pretty quickly…”

During the past month, all streets along the streetcar route have been open to traffic with lane restrictions. By the end of July, lane restrictions will be on a much smaller scale and will be during work hours only.

“It’s something that as soon as the work day is over then the restrictions get pulled back and we’re back up to minimum of two lanes of traffic downtown on both Congress and Broadway,” Chase said.

The restrictions will be for finishing touches such as the overhead lines and poles as well as the signal system and some final finishes to the canopy shelter streetcar stops, De Leon said.

With just a few months left until the streetcar project is complete, the city has also began posting job openings for drivers to begin training and mechanics to help maintain the vehicles.

“We’re very happy I think to get to this point,” De Leon said. “It’s a major milestone for us and we’re looking forward to doing the next phase and then getting the streetcar service up and running.”

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