Construction continues to progress on Tempe Streetcar as the 2021 opening date moves closer. As of this fall, more than half of the streetcar’s track has been installed.
Crews are now preparing for an exciting but technically challenging part of construction. From the end of December into the beginning of next year, special trackwork will be installed that allows streetcar to cross over the existing light rail system.
The work will occur at two locations along the streetcar route, 3rd Street/Mill Avenue and 3rd Street/Ash Avenue. The construction area involves track currently in use by light rail, so the construction plan involves many moving pieces.
Over the past year, the Tempe Streetcar project team identified several options to complete the “track tie-in.” They evaluated plans based on safety, the ability to maintain traffic, how the construction would be phased and most importantly, minimizing customer impact.
Ultimately, they determined the safest and most efficient option would be to incorporate single-tracking. For the portion of the light rail route that runs between the 50th St/Washington and Veterans Way/College Ave stations, both eastbound and westbound trains will take turns traveling along only one of the two available tracks, while the other track is undergoing the tie-in work. (See diagram below.)
While the work is taking place, light rail trains will be spaced along the track throughout the entire system at larger intervals and will operate on an adjusted schedule. From Dec. 21, 2019 through Jan. 5, 2020, all trains will arrive at platforms every 24 minutes.