Why do we need a streetcar?
The Tucson Streetcar will have these core benefits for our community:
- Create new jobs and foster economic development
- Connect major activity centers such as Downtown Tucson, the University of Arizona, the 4th Avenue and Main Gate business districts, and the Westside redevelopment district
- Improve transit service for the region
More than $800 million has already been invested in the project area by private developers to date. More than 500 jobs have been created related to professional services, engineering, design, construction administration, architecture, and public art, in addition to construction and utility relocation jobs for the Tucson Modern Streetcar project. Additionally, approximately 1200 long term jobs are projected to be created.
In 2004, the City of Tucson began a thorough analysis of alternative transportation modes, with a rigorous public outreach process to ensure the project would meet the requirements for future federal funding. Mayor and Council adopted the modern streetcar route as the 'locally preferred alternative' in 2006, citing the ridership potential and positive economic benefits.
The Tucson Modern Streetcar is the product of this extensive transit study and one of the voter-mandated projects outlined in the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) Plan approved by voters in 2006.
The streetcar route
The 3.9-mile streetcar route connects major centers of social and economic activity, with more than 100,000 people living and working within a half-mile of the streetcar route. The route consists of four major segments (click here to view a map of the full route):
West of Downtown/I-10: The western terminus of the streetcar is on the west side of I-10 at Avenida del Convento and Congress Street. The streetcar begins with a clockwise loop that operates north on Avenida del Convento, east on Congress Street, and south on Linda Avenue. The streetcar travels on Cushing Street on the Luis G. Gutierrez Bridge over the Santa Cruz River and under I-10 into Downtown.
Downtown: The streetcar operates north on Granada Avenue near the Tucson Convention Center until it turns east on Congress Street and operates through the heart of Downtown using the Congress Street and Broadway Boulevard one-way couplet. The streetcar will travel east on Broadway Boulevard and west on Congress Street. The streetcar exits Downtown by using the new 4th Avenue underpass.
4th Avenue/Main Gate: The streetcar travels north on 4th Avenue through the 4th Avenue business district and then east on University Boulevard through the West University neighborhood and Main Gate business district.
The University of Arizona: The streetcar turns north on Park Avenue and east on 2nd Street to operate through the University of Arizona campus. It then turns north on Warren Avenue and uses the Warren Avenue underpass to reach the Arizona Health Sciences Center and the University of Arizona Medical Center. It then turns east on Helen Street to reach its eastern terminus on Helen Street east of Warren Avenue.
Who decided thestreetcar route?
The streetcar route was identified in the City of Tucson Major Transit Investment Study (May 2006), which developed and evaluated a range of transit alternatives and included consideration of demographic and growth projections, traffic and environmental issues, and economic development forecasts.
Community involvement and public input has also helped to shape the project. A Community Liaison Group (CLG), made up of 35 representatives from stakeholder groups along the route alignment, was formed in 2004, and has been instrumental as part of the extensive community outreach effort. In addition, the project team conducted multiple public meetings and open houses.
How much will it cost to build?
The overall project cost is about $196 million, which includes project oversight, construction of the streetcar line and Maintenance and Storage Facility, and streetcar vehicles. Building the streetcar line, including tracks, stops, overhead electrical lines and roadway improvements, will cost approximately $55.8 million.
How will it be paid for?
In 2010, the City of Tucson was awarded a $63 million Transportation and Infrastructure Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).The modern streetcar project is a specific component of the RTA Plan, approved by voters in 2006. Federal funding and RTA funds are designated specifically for the streetcar project.
Federal funding sources
$63 million – TIGER Grant awarded in February 2010
New Starts “Exempt” project – received $6 million in appropriations to date
Local funding sources
$75 million – Regional Transportation Authority
$11 million – Public utilities
$3.2 million – The Gadsden Company
Other funding sources
$26.6 Million – City of Tucson Certificates of Participation/Grant Anticipation Notes
$14 million – Luis G. Gutierrez (Cushing) Bridge
Why can't we use streetcar funding for other needs?
Federal funding and RTA funds are designated specifically for the streetcar project. If these funds are not used for the intended purpose, they will be required to be returned to their respective funding source.
Will the streetcar construction destroy landmarks, building, homes or businesses?
No. The Tucson Modern Streetcar will operate on City streets, within the existing right-of-way. There will be no destruction of landmarks, buildings, homes or businesses to accommodate the streetcar.
Will the streetcar require major property acquisition?
The streetcar operates mostly within City of Tucson right-of-way and will require minimal property acquisition to build. The Maintenance and Storage Facility, which is new construction on City-acquired land, does not require relocation of buildings or businesses.
Is it the streetcar safe for pedestrians and bicyclists?
The streetcar is designed for use in high pedestrian areas. Due to the vehicle operating in the roadway and being required to follow normal traffic signals, this type of system is more predictable and, therefore, less hazardous to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. Each streetcar vehicle requires a trained driver who is aware of other motorists, cyclists and pedestrians in the roadway. The streetcar will operate at or below the speed limit and follow all rules of the road, including sharing the road with cyclists and pedestrians.
What will the streetcar look like? How many people can ride in a streetcar?
Tucson's eight streetcar vehicles will be part of the first order of vehicles manufactured in the United States in nearly 60 years, meeting 'Buy America' requirements. Each all-electric vehicle has a sleek, modern look, is ADA compliant and can accommodate up to 180 riders.
Is streetcar project "green"? Will it promote sustainability?
The streetcar is part of the our region's plan for an integrated system that offers added bike lanes and paths, new sidewalks and greenways, plus transit services with added service frequency, hours and capacity. Streetcar service will be integrated with Sun Tran and CatTran service. The all-electric streetcar holds up to 180 passengers and will reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions by reducing vehicle trips.
The Maintenance and Storage Facility is anticipated to be certified LEED silver, due to solar panels and other energy efficient features.
How much will it cost to ride the streetcar?
The cost will be similar to the fare of a local bus ride. The goal is to have a seamless, fare card system that works for Sun Tran, Sun Shuttle and the Modern Streetcar.
Who will build the streetcar?
Old Pueblo Trackworks will build the streetcar line, including tracks, stops, overhead lines, underground utilities, roadway work and associated streetscape improvements. Old Pueblo Trackworks is a joint venture by local construction firm, Granite Construction Co., and RailWorks Track Systems Inc., a Minnesota railroad contractor. The Maintenance and Storage Facility will be built under a separate contract by D.L. Wither Construction, an Arizona based construction manager and general contractor.
Who's in charge and managing the streetcar project?
The construction project is being managed by the City of Tucson Department of Transportation (TDOT). TDOT will provide monthly and quarterly progress reports to all project partners to keep all groups informed about the progress of construction. The entire Tucson Modern Streetcar Project is being co-managed by the City of Tucson and the RTA with oversight by the Federal Transit Administration.
Who will operate the streetcar?
The Tucson Modern Streetcar will be operated by the City of Tucson.
How will the streetcar fit in with other ways of getting around (walking, biking, buses, and cars)?
The streetcar is part of the our region's plan for an integrated multi-modal transportation system that offers added bike lanes and paths, new sidewalks and greenways, plus transit services with added service frequency, hours and capacity. Streetcar service will be integrated with Sun Tran and CatTran service.
The Tucson Modern Streetcar is an additional option that complements other modes of transportation. Streetcar vehicles can carry bikes, allowing cyclists to move within the city center easily and safely.
What is the University of Arizona's role in the project? What does it mean for student life?
The University of Arizona (UA) became a partner early in the planning phase and is a major stakeholder in the project. The streetcar will change the way more than 45,000 students, faculty and staff access UA facilities and move about our community. The modern streetcar is a key component of the UA's Comprehensive Campus Plan, allowing the landlocked campus to grow and develop, while promoting sustainability. For example, a new downtown campus opened in fall 2011 and the UA is moving forward on construction of two public private projects downtown that will provide housing for 1,200 students.
Will the streetcar have public art?
Yes, public art is an important part of this project and 1% of all streetcar funds are set aside for public art. This art will be part of streetcar stops to include eleven signature stops throughout the alignment and and is featured prominently in the new Luis Gutierrez Bridge over the Santa Cruz River. Click here to learn more.
Will people with disabilities be able to use it easily?
Yes, the streetcar vehicles and stops will accommodate people with disabilities. Streetcar vehicles feature a low floor design and bridge plates that allow for easy on-off boarding via wheelchair or stroller. Streetcar signage is provided in Braille to help the visually impaired use the system. Streetcar stops are ADA compliant with access ramps and support bars. Ticketing information and purchase kiosks will accommodate people with disabilities.
How will the streetcar benefit those who do not travel in the Downtown or University area?
The Tucson Modern Streetcar will help benefit all residents of the greater Tucson region by increasing mobility, creating jobs, increasing tax revenue, attracting investment and generating tourism. The streetcar is an important new transit element that will make it easier to connect to other communities in our region beyond Downtown and the University areas.
How will it affect special events along the route?
There are many special events in the corridor that will be served by the streetcar. In most cases, the streetcar will operate as normal during special events and the streetcar can be used to access these events from remote parking areas. The streetcar schedule will be modified to accommodate the 4th Avenue Street Fair, which occurs twice a year.
How long will it take to build the streetcar?
Construction of the streetcar line, including utilities, track, stops and associated roadway improvements, is slated to take 12-16 months, depending on variables like the weather. Following line construction, the streetcar vehicles will undergo extensive testing to ensure operational safety. The streetcar is expected to open to the public in summer 2014.
How will the streetcar affect neighborhoods?
The streetcar will have a net positive effect on neighborhoods adjacent to the streetcar line. More than $800 million has been invested in the area near the streetcar route by private developers, including new mixed-use housing projects, 12 new restaurants, and new retail. There has been significant business expansion in downtown, such as a new headquarters for UniSource Energy, with 400+ employees, and Providence Service Corporation, both publicly-traded companies. This trend is expected to continue as new residents move into the area and use the streetcar to get around.
How will the streetcar affect businesses?
When completed, the streetcar system will have a positive effect on businesses due to increased visibility, foot traffic, market reach and development along the streetcar route. It connects major activity and commerce centers, creates a destination/attraction for tourists and the local community, while providing a transportation alternative for special events. During construction, businesses may experience impacts associated with the project. To help minimize these impacts both the City of Tucson and RTA will continue to proactively reach out to businesses along the project providing their various assistance services.
If I have questions about the streetcar, how can I find out more?
There are several ways to find out more about the project: Go to the project website www.tucsonstreetcar.com or to contact the project team. At the website, you can click to sign up for project and construction updates, 'like us' on Facebook, follow us on Twitter to receive Tweets, and view streaming videos on our YouTube Channel. You can also call the project info line at (520) 624-5656.