Tucson’s modern streetcar, undergoing testing on North Fourth Avenue two months ago, can be shut down if any part of a parked car is in its path.

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Star

What does it take to stop a modern streetcar dead its tracks? Apparently just a quarter.

To see what we are talking about, slide 25 cents into a parking meter and park your vehicle in one of the spaces along Broadway or Congress Street in downtown Tucson nestled next to the streetcar route.

It just takes one part of the vehicle to be inadvertently parked over the white parking lines to temporarily shut down the streetcar, city officials concede.

Any part of a vehicle outside the lines can block the streetcar — and everyone knows we’re all so careful about parking inside the lines, or not.

You don’t even need to be driving a massive truck either — a Mini Cooper with a fender in the path of the streetcar is big enough to do the trick.

Andrew Quigley, Tucson’s streetcar co-manager, said improperly parked cars with a valid meter are posing a problem as the city continues testing the streetcar downtown.

For the moment, the city is treating the issue as an educational issue — saying it needs to get the word out about how to park properly in these spaces and how to direct larger vehicles to alternative parking areas.

The city does have on-demand services for towing vehicles — but setting aside the argument about having the legal authority to tow a car in a valid space — it could easily take 15 minutes to remove the vehicle.

The Tucson City Police Department also has a similar contract that allows for a faster response time, Quigley said.

The city is not, at least for now, considering getting rid of the handful of parking spaces that are causing trouble for the streetcar.

Meanwhile, on a related front, the city is wagering advertising dollars can help alleviate some streetcar expenses.

But before it starts raking in the sponsorship money, the city first plans on spending $50,000 on a consultant to tell it what they might want to charge for naming rights.

City officials claim no one on the city payroll has enough expertise to figure out what value the naming rights have or even how to draft any potential agreement, which is why a consultant is needed to calculate what to charge potential suitors.

At least one person thinks this is a pointless endeavor, because it’s not the city that’s bidding on the right to have its advertising on streetcars, corporations are. And any figure consultants come up with will be moot, because no company will pay more than what it thinks advertising on the streetcar is worth.

“Consultants don’t set the market,” Councilman Steve Kozachik said. “We can place whatever value we want on it, but at the end of the day the people writing the check are the ones who will tell us how much value they see in it.”

Kozachik said the city should just throw it out to bid and see what comes back.

There is some good news out of the troubled city program, however. City officials have announced the first streetcar delivered, known as Streetcar 101, has officially passed its testing requirements.

One down, seven more to go.

The city is also expecting another streetcar to be delivered next week, with three more expected as early as next month. The city is hoping to have the streetcar line up and running by summer.

And thanks to Star reporter Darren DaRonco for contributing to this Roadrunner.


Q: Mary Haley asks: “As you drive south on Granada toward St. Mary’s, there is room for three lanes of traffic at the intersection. However, between the left-turn lane and the go-ahead lane, there is a wide section that is marked off to traffic. This means that while a right-turn lane is supposedly available at the intersection, there is room for only one car going straight and one car turning right.”

A: Michael Graham, a spokesman for the city, said the road was half-finished and was opened temporarily to handle traffic for the gem show.

The striping pattern that is in place now is temporary striping that was installed so city’s transportation department could fully open the road.

Once work is done later this month, the right lane will be a trap right lane, as it was before, which will require a right turn, he said.

The other southbound lane will be a through lane, and there will be a separate left turn lane.

Down the Road
  • The Arizona Department of Transportation will close the westbound Interstate 10 entrance ramp at Palo Verde Road today from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. to repair the guardrail.
  • Crews with the city of Tucson will close a portion of St.Mary’s Road, reducing traffic down to one lane in each direction between the westbound I-10 frontage road to Church Avenue.

Left-turn movements at the intersection of Granada Avenue and St. Mary’s Road will remain open, as will access to Davis Elementary Road.