Crews test streetcar wires, as city tests theories on how to cash in
Crews spent hours testing sections of the streetcar wires Monday.
CREATED Aug. 19, 2013
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - It's the project Tucsonans love to hate. Believe it or not, city officials say the end is near.
While that depends on your definition of "near", the clock is winding down on Tucson's long-awaited modern streetcar project.
Now, the city is looking at how its business community can cash in.
Those behind the project call the area around Tucson Convention Center "the dead zone".
It's one big attraction with not much else around, but those behind the project say by this time next year, that should all begin to change.
Riders are ready.
"We come downtown. We go to U of A games, " said one resident. "We're excited about the streetcar."
Longtime businesses, including Magpies and Hotel Congress, are ready.
"It's a longterm project that will continue to put Tucson at the forefront," said Todd Hanley, general manager at Hotel Congress.
And new kids on the block were literally born ready.
"Knowing that there were so many new businesses opening downtown, this was a perfect location for us to start the venture," said Tina Femeyer, general manager at Proper. The restaurant opened in May.
Now, they're all asking the same question: where are Tucson's street cars?
"Having the first vehicle arrive here in the next couple of weeks is a big milestone," said project adminstrator Shellie Gien.
Answer: we've still got almost another year to go.
Monday, crews spent hours testing the nervous system of this transit system, the wires.
That night, at the Pima County Public Works building, those behind the project spent hours testing their audience.
The topics at hand-- how to use the streetcars to bring in business,build up affordable housing, and overall, make Tucson's streetscape more attractive.
"If we plan in advance, we'll get what we want instead of having things happen us as a city," said architect Corky Poster.
For the most part, the plans were well received.
"So many things have not happened that have been planned for downtown," said resident Barbara Brookhart, who attended Monday's meeting. "But this is going to happen, and it's going to create a healthy downtown."
That's assuming, they say, the streetcars are received soon.
Planners with the street cars already know what their next P.R. challenge will be.
The first modern streetcar is set to arrive in a couple weeks.
After that, it's one a month for 7 or 8 months.
So they say, people will see streetcars driving around town, but won't be able to ride them until they're all up and running in July.