Tucson Breaks Ground on Streetcar, Investment Already Following

Streetcars are back, and Tucson, Arizona is leading the way.

This southwestern city broke ground this week on the Sun Link Streetcar, the first new streetcar system built with federal funding in more than 60 years.

US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was on hand for the ground breaking of the Tucson Streetcar this week. Photo: ##http://fastlane.dot.gov/2012/04/tucson-streetcar.html## The Fast Lane##

The $200 million, 3.9-mile project will connect downtown Tucson with the University of Arizona and the university’s medical center. The project received $60 million in federal funding through a TIGER grant. The remaining funding was provided by a portion of a voter-approved half-cent sales tax.

That investment appears to be paying off already. The project has already led to $400 million worth of spending commitments along the corridor, according to a report from US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who was in Tucson for a groundbreaking ceremony earlier this week.

“Downtown’s starting to come back to life,” said Michael McKisson, founder of local blog Tucson Velo. “A lot of businesses have moved down there to be by the streetcar track.”

McKisson said the project has its detractors — mainly those who think the project is too expensive or serves too limited a geographic area. But he added future plans call for another five-mile extension, further out toward the suburbs.

“Most people, they probably understand overall that it will be a net gain,” he said. “Some people just overall don’t like change.”

More than 100,000 people live within walking distance of the loop, according to LaHood.

This is likely to be the first of many streetcar groundbreakings in the coming years. The Community Streetcar Coalition, a group that advocates for streetcars, lists 20 cities that are planning systems.

Image: ##http://www.streetcarcoalition.org/node/2## Community Streetcar Coalition##
  • Ben

    that’s awesome that they broke ground on a new streetcar, congratulations!  also, sorry im confused, why is there no mention anywhere of the cincinnati streetcar which just broke ground about a month ago?

  • 14th&Bremen

    yah I agree with Ben. I see them working on the streetcar in Cincinnati everyday. They broke ground over a month ago now and just announced what vehicles they will be using. http://www.urbancincy.com

  • Robbyn

    Awesome. 

  • Did DC StreetsBlog even cover the Cincinnati groundbreaking? Kind of an oversight for a transit blog. 

  • Marshal, no we didn’t. But we covered the Cincinnati Streetcar story from other angles extensively. I think we wrote six or more stories.

  • Ramiro

    Launch ground breaking date for Sugar House and South Salt Lake.
    Salt Lake City Council approved funding for the Parleys Trail and Streetcar corridor greenway. Another red letter day for Sugar House. We did well today. Great show of support and excitement from every corner of the community. So heartwarming. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be your voice on the city council.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

In New Orleans, LaHood Unveils $280M in Streetcar and Bus Grants

|
During a visit to New Orleans, where city planners are seeking nearly $100 million in federal stimulus money for three new streetcar lines, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced plans to award $280 million in grants for streetcar and bus networks. New Orleans is counting on bonds, backed by sales taxes, to finance new streetcar […]

Despite December Agreement, DC Streetcar Won’t “Buy America” After All

|
Back in December, Clackamas, Oregon-based United Streetcar won an $8.7 million contract to build two vehicles for Washington, DC’s streetcar system, currently under construction. The timing could not have been better for House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Nick Rahall, who had just introduced legislation to tighten “Buy America” requirements on future transportation investments. […]

Boxer Pushes LaHood on Financing for Transportation

|
Senator Barbara Boxer got down to brass tacks on transportation funding in a committee hearing yesterday, even as DOT Secretary Ray LaHood remained vague on how to pay for the president’s ambitious proposal. Boxer said she’s not in favor of raising the gas tax, but she’d like it to be indexed to inflation. “We don’t […]

NYC’s Moynihan Station is the First Big TIGER Stimulus Winner

|
New York City’s Moynihan Station project has snagged $83 million in grant money from the stimulus law’s Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) announced today. A rendering of the proposed Moynihan Station. (Photo: The Real Deal) The grant makes the intended successor to the current Penn Station, a longstanding priority […]

Fort Worth City Council Smothers Streetcar in Its Crib

|
Sound planning suffered a setback last night in Fort Worth, Texas, where the City Council abruptly pulled the plug on a streetcar proposal, iterations of which have been germinating in the community for decades. Just a few weeks ago, our friends at Network blog Fort Worthology were celebrating the delivery of a modern streetcar to […]