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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Streetcar project leaders open for community input

Hailey Eisenbach
Hailey Eisenbach / Arizona Daily Wildcat Students ride their bikes near the new Sunlink tracks on University Boulevard on Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012.

With roughly a year left until the Sun Link Tucson Modern Streetcar’s completion, UA PTS and project leaders for the city are open to input from the public, especially those within the UA community.

Directors from the university’s Parking and Transportation Services and officials from the City of Tucson hosted an open house for the project on Wednesday morning in the Student Union Memorial Center’s Catalina Room. A number of tables displayed information on routing, detours and future closures expected throughout the coming year. The event was intended to collect feedback from students, faculty and staff, as the streetcar will become a major form of transportation once it’s running at the end of next year, according to Shellie Ginn, the project manager for the streetcar project.

“We’ve included the community as part of our development of the plans and design process and it will continue through construction and implementation,” Ginn said. “We want to make sure that folks get a chance to ask questions, understand what’s happening, get a face-to-face with the people who are running the program.”

PTS also stressed the importance of allowing the public to see what they can expect from the project once it’s done, and encouraged anyone to present their ideas and ask questions.

“An open house gives people an opportunity to come in and talk face to face and ask questions about things they may been wondering about,” said PTS Director David Heineking. “It’s a much more dynamic atmosphere where people can have those face-to-face conversations that you can’t get from a newspaper article.”

Additionally, CatTran managers were also available to provide information on the system’s route, which have seen drastic changes since the start of the project due to the closure of Second Street, which serves as a main thoroughfare for all routes. According to Glenn Grafton, PTS’s manager of alternative transportation, the route changes have been received positively by those using the bus.
Student response throughout the construction has varied, but most have agreed that once the work is completed, the result will be worth it.

“They have it so that when there’s a crossing street you can’t just go across on the sidewalk, you have to go around the fence ­… that’s a little annoying,” said Holly Stenzel, a psychology freshman who regularly walks to church at the St. Thomas More Catholic Newman Center from her dorm in Kaibab-Huachuca Residence Hall. “I think [the streetcar] will be really cool. I think it will make it more of, like, a fun, college-town area.”

Alissa Villamor, a pre-nursing junior, also said the construction has interfered with her day-to-day routine, but added that the end product would probably make up for the current inconvenience.
“Over here by [Second Street Parking Garage], they fenced it all around, and actually the other day I was late to class because I didn’t realize it was fenced and I had to walk all the way around campus,” she said. “Once it’s finished it’ll be helpful.”

Daniel Walsh, a pre-business sophomore, also speculated other benefits to the alternative form of transportation following the construction process.

“At the beginning of the year, it affected my driving quite a bit because Euclid Avenue was closed off for a couple days at the beginning of the year, and that was kind of a pain,” he said. “I think it’ll help Fourth [Avenue] a lot. It’ll maybe cut down on drunk driving.”

After officially beginning construction on April 12, the project has five current work zones throughout the inner and surrounding campus area. The next scheduled closure will be Park Avenue and the west end of Second Street in the late fall, which is predicted to last about six months.

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