Sunday, August 12, 2012

Tucson electric streetcar construction, crossing the Santa Cruz

8/12/2012, Gutierrez Bridge looking west, Tucson, Arizona
 Here are photos of the Tucson Modern Electric Streetcar rail construction project for last week, starting with the amazing new Luis G. Gutierrez Bridge (aka the Cushing Street Bridge).

This is without a doubt going to be a cool bridge.  When completed, this 320 foot bridge across the Santa Cruz river/wash will provide a shaded east-west connection for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and of course, the new Sun Link electric streetcar.

The pedestrian shade sails have a very nice look to them and are designed not only to provide shade to the walkway, but also to cast various shade patterns onto the sidewalk below -- nice idea!

Each end of the new streetcar bridge has a wide staircase on each side which leads down to the pedestrian/bike paths that run along the banks of the Santa Cruz.
8/12/2012, Gutierrez Bridge, looking NE toward downtown Tucson, Arizona
 Below, you can get a first impression of the shade cast from the sails and how the railway will run across the bridge.  I'm looking forward to the day I can walk across and capture pictures of all the shade patterns.
8/12/2012, Gutierrez Bridge looking east, Tucson, Arizona
 looking up from the bike path at one of the sails...   They kind of have a leaf looking pattern and then at the wide end, a unique shade casting pattern that is different on each of the sails.
8/12/2012, Guiterrez Bridge, Tucson, Arizona

Here you see the ends of two more sails, with different cutouts for unique shadows cast below.  I'm not sure since this is still under construction, but it appears that the stairs have a narrow ramp along one side that could be used to easily wheel one's bike up from the bike path(?).
8/12/2012, SE steps on Gutierrez Bridge
 Nice looking design / construction under the bridge.  Nothing scary or threatening along the walkway under the bridge, good feel to it.
8/12/2012, on bike path under Gutierrez Bridge, Tucson, Arizona

8/12/2012, looking SE, Gutierrez Bridge, Tucson, Arizona
 These long rails are staged for eventual installation of the final stretch of tracks at the west end of the streetcar route.  Its interesting how these massive rails sag and bend with the terrain.
8/12/2012, streetcar rails staged at west end of streetcar route, Tucson, Arizona
 Back on the east side of I-10, streetcar rail construction is continuing down University Blvd toward 4th Ave -- here they are doing initial placement/leveling of the eastbound rails and off in the distance you can see the westbound rails laying on the ground.
8/11/2012, looking east down University Blvd from 3rd Ave
 4th Ave is normally shutdown a couple of times a year for a large street fair.  According to the Sun Link info, the new streetcar is supposed to accommodate this.  I don't know, but I'm guessing they are going to do something along the lines of the old historic tracks below -- run a spur off each end of 4th Ave that will allow them to change direction (tracks) so that both ends of the route can run up to, but not through, the 4th Ave Street fair when it is in progress..
8/11/2012, old tracks at University Blvd and 4th Ave
 Here is a stretch of 4th Ave where the new track has been placed and street repaved.
8/11/2012, completed roadway on 4th Ave between 6th St and University Blvd, looking south
 I believe this patch of unfinished dirt in the middle of the completed roadway on 4th Ave will be one of the new platforms/stops for the street car.  I'm looking forward to seeing those; like other cities, the stops are supposed to feature some interesting art designs.
8/11/2012, 4th Ave, site for future streetcar stop platform
 Bars and old rebar from the demolition of the old 4th Ave roadway.  Its good to see that they are apparently breaking up the concrete around the rebar so that it can be recycled.
8/11/2012, 4th Ave, Tucson, Arizona

This crew appeared to be drilling holes to place pillar foundations.  I *think* this section west of 4th Ave paralleling the railroad tracks is going to be part of the storage yard for the 8 streetcars when they are not in use.
8/11/2012, west of 4th Ave & 9th Street

8/11/2012, west of 4th Ave and 9th Street
 and last, but not least, here is a construction shot of what will be the maintenance building for the new streetcars.
8/11/2012, 8th Street west of 4th Ave, Streetcar maintenance building and storage area
I have to say, the more I see of the new Tucson SunLink streetcar construction project, the more excited and optimistic I get concerning its impact on 4 major portions of Tucson: University of Arizona, 4th Ave, downtown Tucson, and the area west of I-10/Santa Cruz River.  Time will be the ultimate test, but I've got a good feel about this project.

To view all of my blog posts and pictures related to Sun Link, the Tucson Modern Streetcar construction project, click here.


  1. Replies
    1. We do seem to be making progress in some areas; others, not so much.

  2. Interesting piece of documentary from the construction site. I am greeting

  3. Do we live in the same town??!!! This is cool. I can't wait for the project to be completed. Tucson will be even nicer with this addition. I don't go in this area often so I love the sails going up. Pretty exciting stuff. Thanks for the pics and updates.

    1. I'm looking forward to its completion as well. I think it will be positive for Tucson. Its success will still depend a lot on how the city handles the initial launch, promotes ridership, parking, as well as having sane policies. So far so good!

  4. Congrats on being featured in the AAA magazine in the Night of the Living Dead article. You do beautiful work!


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