|Locale||Tucson, Arizona, United States|
|Termini||Arizona Health Sciences Center
|Stations||22 (17 per direction)|
|Opening||July 25, 2014|
|Owner||City of Tucson|
|Operator(s)||RATP Dev McDonald Transit|
|Rolling stock||United Streetcar 200 (8 cars)|
|Line length||3.9 miles (6.3 km)|
Sun Link, also known as the Tucson Modern Streetcar, is a single-line streetcar system in Tucson, Arizona, United States. It opened on 25 July 2014, serving an estimated 17,000 riders on its opening day.
The system's 3.9-mile (6.3 km) route connects the Arizona Health Sciences Center (including University Medical Center), the University of Arizona campus, the Main Gate and 4th Avenue shopping and entertainment districts, Downtown Tucson, the Tucson Convention Center, and the Mercado District under development west of Interstate 10. The system's projected cost of $196 million was met through a combination of local funding sources and federal grants.
In May 2006 Pima County voters approved a $2.1 billion, 20-year regional transportation plan which included $75 million toward construction of a modern streetcar and an additional $12.7 million toward its operation. In December 2010, a $63 million federal TIGER grant was awarded to the City of Tucson, meeting most of the remaining funding gap and allowing the project to move forward. An additional $6 million of federal funding was obtained through the Federal Transit Administration's New Starts program. Funding has also come from utilities for relocation and improvements along the streetcar route, most significantly $10.6 million from Tucson Water.
Construction began in April 2012 and continued through summer 2013. A $56 million contract for removal of existing roadway, utility relocation, installation of track, resurfacing, and construction of the system's 21 covered, accessible stops was awarded to Old Pueblo Trackworks, a joint venture of Granite Construction and RailWorks Track Systems, in March 2012.
Work was carried out in two phases. Phase 1 addressed straight sections of the route east of the Congress and Granada stop and required rolling closures of sections of Congress Street, Broadway Boulevard, 4th Avenue, University Boulevard, 2nd Street, the Warren Avenue underpass, and Helen Street. Phase 2 began in November 2012 and included all work west of the convention center, corner sections requiring fabrication of curved track elements, and additional work on Broadway and the Warren underpass. The system was completed and opened on July 25, 2014.
Sun Link maintains a fleet of eight United Streetcar 200s, using up to six cars at once. Tucson placed an initial $26 million order for seven cars in June 2010. The eighth car was ordered for an additional $3.6 million in July 2012 in order to satisfy FTA requirements for a second spare. United's first model 200 car arrived in Tucson by flatbed truck on August 30, 2013.
The United Streetcar 200 is a 66-foot long, double-ended (bi-directional), electric rail vehicle, articulated into three sections. The center section floor is at platform height for accessibility with two double-door entrances on each side for low dwell times. Each side of the car has a third passenger door located behind the operator cab. Propulsion is provided by four 90-kW motors drawing power via pantograph from an overhead line. The streetcar has a maximum speed of 43.5 mph (70 km/h) and a capacity of 156 passengers (29 seated and 127 standing).
The 200 model is largely identical to the United Streetcar 100, built for the Portland Streetcar system, the only major difference being that the 200 is equipped with upgraded air-conditioning. The design of the 100 model itself is based on the Czech-made Škoda 10 T.
Delays in production of the streetcars pushed Sun Link's projected start of service from a forecast of late 2013 as of the start of construction to July 2014. Tucson officials notified United Streetcar in May 2013 of their intention to assess contractual damages for late delivery, which start at $250 and increase over time to $1,800 per day, per vehicle, up to a maximum penalty of $2.9 million.
Operations & Maintenance Facility
The Sun Link Operations & Maintenance Facility is centered on the system route at 5th Avenue and 8th Street. Construction of the eight million-dollar facility began in May 2012 and concluded in August 2013. A public open house and celebration of the first streetcar's delivery with speeches from officials including Tucson mayor Jonathan Rothschild and state senator Steve Farley, a longtime advocate of the streetcar, was held on September 6, 2013.
Cushing Street extension and Luis G. Gutierrez Bridge
The 320-foot Luis G. Gutierrez Bridge takes streetcar, automobile, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic across the Santa Cruz on Cushing Street, which was extended from the I-10 frontage road to Avenida del Convento in 2012. The bridge opened to pedestrian and bicycle traffic in fall 2012.
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