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METRO received local and regional approval in 2010 to move forward with 2.6-miles of modern streetcar in central Tempe. Tempe Streetcar will run in a one-way loop between Rio Salado Parkway and University Drive, going north on Mill Avenue and south on Ash Avenue. It will continue to travel north/south on Mill Avenue between University Drive and Southern Avenue.
Streetcar is a critical addition to developing a total transit network in this region. It supports the existing transit system and community with its ability to attract new riders, increase mobility, strengthen existing neighborhoods and create sustainable development.
Modern streetcar vehicles operate on tracks, typically mixed with automobile traffic, and are powered by overhead power lines. They differ from light rail vehicles in their smaller vehicle size and single-car operation. Stops are also more simple and frequent than light rail.
The project will be built by 2016 using a mix of regional Proposition 400 funds and federal grant dollars. City of Tempe is responsible for the operating funds.
In 2012, METRO and the City of Tempe met frequently with a Community Working Group, made up of residents and business owners along the proposed line, to further define the project. The group, guided by the project’s technical team, reviewed and debated various options for streetcar track and stop locations along Mill and Ash Avenues. The group’s recommendations for how and where the streetcars will travel and stop were approved by Tempe City Council.
The Environmental Assessment (EA) and preparation of federal grant applications has also begun. The EA will evaluate the project’s potential impacts on a variety of factors including noise and vibration, air and water quality, traffic and parking and historic and archaeological resources. A Draft EA will be available for public review in 2012.
|Environmental Assessment||Spring 2011 – Summer 2012|
|Design||Spring 2013 – Spring 2014|
|Utility Relocation||Winter 2013 – Fall 2014|
|Construction||Early 2014 – Spring 2016|
|Pre-operations and Start-up||2016|
Tempe Streetcar is a result of a three-year study that evaluated high-capacity transit improvements to support Tempe and Chandler and enhance the existing, regional transit network. In addition to streetcars, the study also called for a bus rapid transit line on Rural Road to Chandler; it will be implemented as funding becomes available.
The project goals for the then-named Tempe South study were to:
The Tempe South study area was bound by Route 202 (Red Mountain Freeway) to the north, Route 202 (Santan Freeway) to the south, the Tempe Branch of the Union Pacific Railroad to the west, and Loop 101 (Price Freeway) to the east.
The study was funded by the Proposition 400 half-cent transportation sales tax renewed by Maricopa County voters in 2004. The Tempe Streetcar project capital costs are estimated at $130 million and will be funded using Proposition 400 and federal grant dollars.
This project is contained within the Maricopa Association of Governments’ (MAG) Regional Transportation Plan as part of the 57 miles of high-capacity transit corridors voter-approved in 2004 and to be implemented by 2031. It is also in compliance with the requirements of the federal transit planning process needed to qualify for federal funds that can support the building of this project.