Sunday, June 24, 2012

Tucson Electric Streetcar Progress

4th Ave, 6/17/2012

I snapped this picture last Sunday of the freshly laid tracks for the new electric streetcar route in Tucson (4th Avenue between 6th Street and University Blvd).  A lot of streets on or near the route are currently being torn up as utilities are relocated, tracks laid, and overhead power lines put in place.

This project will ultimately construct an infrastructure to support multiple electric streetcars traversing a route from the UofA Medical Center, through part of the UofA campus, up University Blvd, down 4th Ave, through downtown and ending on Congress Street a little ways west of I-10.   About a 4 mile route.

Although approved by voters in 2006, the $200 million dollar project is not without controversy and has its share of advocates and detractors with some valid points on either side.

One nice thing to see is that since its been approved and funded, it is actually taking place!  [unlike some other Tucson projects which have been approved, funded, and have little to show for the funds]

Personally, I'm looking forward to using it when it goes into service.  Ultimately, time will be the ultimate test of ridership and how it affects the UofA, 4th Ave businesses, downtown, and community.

Ironically, one of my concerns is that it might be successful enough to drive up land/business value along the route which in turn could change the flavor of the businesses that can afford the higher property values along 4th Ave.

I'm also a bit concerned that there might be a lot of bicycle accidents along the University route due to new students not being used to the dangers of riding parallel to tracks and dropping wheels when crossing (was a bike hazard on the previous short route of old trolley tracks on 4th Ave).

For more information, background, pictures, and routes, please see this FAQ.

I'll be posting more construction pictures as I stumble, sometimes literally, across construction areas of interest.

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