As construction proceeds on Tucson's SunLink modern streetcar line, signs of development are appearing in many locations along the route. According to Insidetucsonbusiness.com, at least five large student housing developments are in the planning or construction stages at various locations along the 3.9-mile streetcar line.
In total, the projects could place more than 2,000 students within walking distance of the SunLink streetcar, an important factor for the success or the new line.
“This is part of what a rail system can do, as opposed to a bus system,” Carlos de Leon of the RTA said, explaining that residential and commercial development often will grow in conjunction with fixed public-transit infrastructure like the streetcar.
About 100,000 people currently live within a half-mile of the streetcar route. Zoning changes along the route have, by means of overlay districts, enabled large building to be constructed with lower parking requirements than would normally be the case. As the University of Arizona is planning to increase its student body by approximately 20 percent by 2020, the requirement is great for large student housing projects near the campus.
Streetcar Construction Begins
Clackamas, Ore., based United Streetcar LLC, a subsidiary of Oregon Iron Works, is beginning construction of modern streetcars for Tucson's 3.9-mile modern streetcar line, according to the weekly traffic and transit column in The Arizona Daily Star. The $197 million project supported by $63 million in federal funds, is due to open in fall 2013. Eight streetcars, including two spares, are being purchased for $38 million.
Most of the components are American made, said project manager Shellie Ginn, in keeping with the Federal Transit Administration's Buy America program. The cars are 65-foot-long, double-ended vehicles, powered from overhead wire. Tucson will buy eight of them, including two spares, Ginn said.
The air conditioned cars will carry 130 people comfortably but have room for up to 180. The first of the vehicles will arrive in Tucson in February for on-street testing. Operations are expected to begin in October 2013.
Old Track Removed
The contractors working on Tucson's 3.9-mile, $196 million modern streetcar line will be removing the concreted single track that Tucson Rapid Transit used on University Boulevard west of the University of Arizona main gate until 1930. This track was also used by the Old Pueblo heritage trolley operation until its suspension to enable construction of the new line.
Sections of University Boulevard will be closed for approximately four months to allow removal of the rail, utility work, and installation of the new track and wire.
Starting on May 14, the street will be excavated in preparation for laying double track. Long welded rail sections also will be moved to the work area, the Tucson Velo site reports in an update on streetcar-related road closures and detours. The asphalt covering east-west single track on University was removed by Old Pueblo Trolley [OPT] volunteers to expose the track for operation of the now temporarily closed heritage streetcar line.