Streetcar ready for riders next summer

Target for delivery of all eight vehicles is March of next year
2013-06-19T00:00:00Z 2013-09-11T15:32:56Z Streetcar ready for riders next summerDarren DaRonco Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
June 19, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Although beset by countless delays, the company building Tucson's streetcars said it's on target to have all eight cars delivered by late March next year.

That means the tracks could be open to riders by midsummer 2014, about eight months later than the original start date.

Tucson's first car rolled down a test track for the first time last week and should arrive in August for more testing here.

Kevin Clarke, president of United Streetcar, said after the first car is delivered, subsequent cars should be shipped every four weeks.

Clarke acknowledged his company hit some rough patches as it aspired to become the first American streetcar manufacturer in 60 years.

But with the first Portland, Ore., car now cleared and in operation, they've hopefully worked out the kinks and things should run smoother going forward, Clarke said during a Tuesday afternoon City Council meeting.

The city has been charging United damages since March for late vehicles. The city can charge up to $1,800 a day per vehicle, up to a maximum of $2.9 million.

In other streetcar news, all the rail work should be completed by late July, with the electrical work following sometime in September.

For drivers, that means "the disruptions that our public have endured will come to an end," said Andrew Quigley, Tucson's Sun Link co-manager.

City property for sale

The council also voted to sell its property on North Tyndale Avenue, just south of Speedway. Currently, the city leases the building at 1023 N. Tyndale Avenue to Direct Center for Independence, an advocacy organization specializing in assisting people with disabilities.

In 1983, Direct signed a dollar-a-year lease with a 99-year term. But mounting difficulties from the three mega-dorm towers being built on the east and south sides of them convinced Direct officials it was time to move.

A private dorm developer offered to buy the property and pay for Direct's relocation. But the council decided to open the bidding and see what offers are out there.

The minimum bid was set at $2.75 million. In addition, each proposal must include costs to relocate Direct to a new facility.

On StarNet: View a timeline of the streetcar's bumpy history at timeline.azstarnet.com/streetcar

Contact reporter Darren DaRonco at 573-4243 or ddaronco@azstarnet.com.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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