I was able to take some time off work this afternoon to attend the dedication ceremony and open house for Tucson's new Sun Link Operations and Maintenance Center (aka Electric Streetcar Maintenance & Storage Facility). I was also able to get my first look at the first of eight modern streetcars to arrive in Tucson (above). This is another major milestone for the new electric streetcar project which has been underway for some time.
There was a good turnout of folks in attendance for the ceremony and probably rare opportunity to see the maintenance facility located a block west of 4th Ave.
Here we see a potential future streetcar rider arriving by one of the older transportation methods still used in Tucson:
Our local representatives associated with the project showed that they could still take a 'ribbon in front of the public and enjoy it!
not sure if politicians should run with scissors though...
Below we are looking at the entrances to the three maintenance bays, with the very first streetcar to be delivered parked in front of bay #3.
It's an impressive building and appeared very well planned out and constructed. Makes sense if you are needing to service very heavy equipment that runs on rails.
Inside looking at left to right maintenance bays 3, 2, and 1.
(above & below) photos of maintenance bay #1 which is a service pit -- a street car can roll in here and then be worked on from below by maintenance staff in an incredibly well lit area under the streetcar.
track on heavy support pillars for the well-lit pit in maintenance bay #1
ok, it's not just me is it? Don't these 10 ton jacks look like they could play a roll in a Dr. Who episode?
There appeared to be eight of these 10 ton jacks that could be rolled around for maintenance needs in bays #2, #3. They were pretty impressive lifts. Makes the computer server lifts used in computer datacenters look wimpy, wimpy, wimpy. :-)
The business end of each jack had two lift points
turntables to shift between tracks in the building. at first glance, it appears to be way too small, but all you have to do is turn the trucks (wheel assemblies).
A parts / tools storage area in the building. The building also houses offices, conference rooms, etc.
Back outside to take a few more photos as the crowd thins. This was not a "touch the streetcar" event, in fact they don't want anyone to touch the streetcar for a while (especially cars) while they complete acceptance testing and run through procedures. Since these are new streetcars on a completely new rail / electric infrastructure, you can imagine that will take some time to do so properly.
streetcar storage area on the left, streetcar "carwash" to the right:
One thing that may surprise my international readers, but this is unusual for the U.S. These streetcars are actually being made in the U.S. by a Portland Oregon company and you're looking at the fifth streetcar to me made by them (Portland just recently got the first 4 production cars). Before that, if I remember what I read sometime back correctly, you'd have to go back something like 60 years to find a U.S. made streetcar.
looking through the window at the driver's console
It's finally getting close to that point where the rubber (or lack thereof) meets the road for this project. We're always fixated on all the new overhead power being installed along the route, here you can see the bottom part of what it take to stay current in this business.
My understanding is that they are ready to start the initial work of taking this car out on a portion of the new tracks in the next few days. They are apparently going to start with towing the car to check clearances, tolerances, and other items. Then will start testing the power connections.
Streetcar #2 should arrive in October if it remains on schedule (the revised delivery schedule following early production delay issues). I think they are less than a year away for the new system going into service for passengers and regular schedules. While there continue to be differences of opinion about this project, it is great to see a voter approved, funded project actually being completed. So far everything appears (to me) to be being constructed very well. Only time will tell the full story of this project. Since it is obviously happening, I think it best to hope for its success and successful impacts to our city.
Street entrance view of the new facility