by Amalia Otet, Associate Editor
The City of Tucson is s wrapping up construction on the Sun Link Streetcar, its largest construction project to-date. About 98 percent of the underground utility upgrades and relocations are complete, and 95 percent of the project has rail installed, according to the latest official updates.
Co-managed by the City of Tucson and the RTA, the Sun Link project is part of the voter-approved $2.1 billion Regional Transportation Plan that will be implemented through 2026.
The 3.9-mile streetcar route will connect major activity centers: The University of Arizona, Arizona Health Sciences Center, University Main Gate Business District, 4th Avenue Business District, Congress Avenue Shopping and Entertainment District and the Mercado District.
In addition to delivering an improved, high-profile, transit system, the Sun Link project is expected to give a huge boost to the local economy. To date, more than $800 million has been invested by the private sector. More than 1,500 housing units have been developed, and over 50 retail outfits have set up shop along the route. Approximately 500 construction jobs have been directly linked to the construction process, and an estimated 1,480 long-term regional jobs are projected to emerge as a result of the streetcar.
Moreover, the Sun Link transit corridor has seen an increased corporate business presence with the addition of a new headquarters for UniSource Energy, with 400-plus employees, and Providence Service Corp., both publicly traded companies.
The fixed-guideway electric rail system will have eight ADA-compliant vehicles in operation, sharing a travel lane with other vehicles and will be compatible with street parking. The streetcars also will accommodate bicycles and have easy roll-on access for wheelchairs and strollers.
Public art will be an important component of the high-profile Sun Link. There will be 11 unique stops featuring signature public art pieces, and nine stops will be equipped with LCD “reader boards” with poetry provided by the University of Arizona Poetry Center, the Arizona Daily Wildcat reports.
The Maintenance and Storage Facility (MSF) is designed to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum.
Construction is expected to be finished in the fall 2013, with an opening planned for the summer 2014.
Rendering courtesy of the Tucson Modern Streetcar Facebook page