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Tucson - December 2008

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Tucson ― Streetcar Funding Slashed

Rail Transit Online, December 2008

The Federal Transit Administration will award a $25-million New Starts grant to the planned four-mile (6.4 km) downtown Tucson streetcar line instead of the $75 million sought by the city under the Small Starts program. This leaves the Bush administration with a perfect record of denying funding to streetcars under Small Starts, despite specific language favoring trolleys in the legislation that created the program.

Capital cost is estimated at $162 million, $87.7 million of which would be contributed by the city if the full grant had come through. The $25-million FRA award was made under an exemption of the New Starts law because the amount was small.

Mayor Bob Walkup and city transportation officials repeatedly contacted former FTA Administrator James S. Simpson and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters, arguing that the agency's analysis of the streetcar's benefits was in error. But the protests were given a deaf ear.
Tucson Transportation Department Project Manager Shellie Gin said the city will not give up. "We're going to continue to pursue federal funding in other areas," she told the Tucson Citizen. "The goal is to keep this project moving forward."


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