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In June 2014, the Tempe City Council supported a route recommendation for a three-mile Tempe Streetcar project. Valley Metro, in coordination with the city of Tempe, recommended this modified streetcar route to better fit the new federal funding criteria and meet community goals. The route is Rio Salado Parkway from the Marina Heights development west to Mill Avenue, downtown loop on Mill and Ash avenues and south to Apache Boulevard, then east to Dorsey Lane.
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has continued to express interest in the streetcar project and in April 2013, the FTA approved Tempe Streetcar into Project Development. Entrance into Project Development signals the first step in receiving federal approval and ultimately federal funds for the project.
The Tempe Streetcar project capital costs are estimated at $175-$200 million and will be funded using regional Proposition 400 funds, federal grant dollars, and other potential sources.
The next steps for the project are to share the updated route and proposed stop locations with the community, continue coordination with the FTA and seek regional route approval from the Valley Metro Rail Board and Maricopa Association of Governments. The project team is also beginning the federally-required Environmental Assessment (EA) for the project. The EA will evaluate the potential impacts to the neighboring environment, including cultural and archaeological resources, and document the project’s Purpose and Need.
Streetcar is an important 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. Stops are also more frequent than light rail.