Street car pork is coming to Tempe!
Grab your wallet cause Hugh Hallman and the
other royal rulers of Tempe want your money for this boondoggle project.
First glimpse at Tempe streetcar project to be unveiled
Posted: Thursday, February 2, 2012 9:15 am
By Garin Groff, Tribune | 1 comment
Metro light rail is starting to design the look of Tempe's planned streetcar system on Mill Avenue, down to each platform, shelter and how structures will shade passengers from Arizona's relentless sun.
The transit agency will unveil the conceptual designs Wednesday at a Tempe forum and use the input to refine prominent features of the $130 milllion, 2.6-mile long system. [Wow! That will cost $800 for each of the 161,719 residents of Tempe, or about $1,600 for each adult that lives in Tempe!!!]
Construction is scheduled to begin in late 2013, and designers need to have more concrete direction, Metro spokeswoman Hillary Foose said. The plans are still very conceptual, she said.
"We'd love for people to share their ideas with us, whatever their ideas are, whether its art work or shade," she said.
The streetcar shares some elements of light rail but on a much smaller scale that requires different design elements. The stations, called stops, are typically about 46-feet long and are more like bus stops than the massive light rail platforms. Also, streetcar stops are on sidewalks rather than in the middle of the street.
Designers will have to decide what 17 structures will look like, including whether downtown stops should be the same or different than stops in more suburban locations to the south, Foose said.
The line will go from Southern Avenue to Rio Salado Parkway, where it will loop onto Ash Avenue and return to Mill on University Drive. [How come none of the mass transit boondoggles go to South Tempe? Tempe goes another 5 miles to Ray Road from Southern, but neither light rail, the free Orbit buses or this silly street car go to Ray Road. That is almost twice the 3 mile distance this over priced street car goes from Southern Avenue to the Tempe Town Toilet, which is just north of downtown Tempe]
While Tempe is the only Valley community where a streetcar is being planned, the guidelines will apply to any future lines that might be built, Foose said.
The design guidelines will include paint schemes, pavement treatments, structures, seating, artwork and landscaping. Some spots will have to fit in tight places, so there are limited opportunities for landscaping, said Tempe spokeswoman Sue Taaffe. The city believes it can squeeze art into each spot.
"Public art is important to Tempe," she said. "When we can put art up at transit stops, we do." [Of course the millions of dollars of public art spent on this silly street car is nothing more then a welfare program for the artists that give bribes, opps, I mean campaign contributions to the Tempe city council members]
For more information about the streetcar, go to www.metrolightrail.org/tempestreetcar.
Contact writer: (480) 898-6548 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Tempe revises streetcar plan in funding attempt
By Dianna M. Náñez The Republic | azcentral.com Sun Mar 10, 2013 10:24 PM
Tempe is revamping its plans for the Valley’s first modern streetcar after learning that the city will not receive federal funding for a route that would have extended south on Mill Avenue from downtown toward U.S. 60.
The streetcar project, a transit route nearly six years in the making, did not meet the Federal Transit Administration’s threshold for funding under the “Small Starts” program.
The 2.6-mile line, which would have snaked through downtown Tempe and traveled south on Mill to Southern Avenue, rated well in economic-development opportunities but fell short in ratings for cost effectiveness and whether the existing land use, including current population and density levels, is sufficient to support a major transit investment.
The city faced scaling back its plans and using regional transit funds for a 1-mile route that would loop downtown Tempe on Mill and Ash avenues. The alternatives were to scrap the project and lose out on the millions in regional transit dollars dedicated to the streetcar line or to accept the FTA’s offer to overhaul the route so it would have a better chance at securing a new federal grant.
The council chose to allow Valley Metro to reconfigure the route so that the streetcar would remain in contention for federal funding.
Tempe and Valley Metro officials have long acknowledged that they were counting on federal grants for about one-third of the $129 million needed to build the 2.6-mile rail line.
Maricopa County’s regional transit board has approved $73 million for the project, which would have funded the 1-mile route.
At a Tempe City Council study session last week, Valley Metro CEO Stephen Banta reassured council members that regional support remains for the streetcar.
Banta added that federal transit officials are supportive of the city realigning the extension to serve higher-density areas, such as on Apache Boulevard, where new apartments and new Arizona State University student housing have been built.
The council gave Banta the OK to maintain the portion of the original route through downtown on Mill and Ash avenues. The FTA looked favorably on that stretch given the economic-development opportunities downtown.
Two extensions, which incorporate the loop, are under consideration for the revamped route.
One option would establish a 2.7-mile route from downtown that would run south on Mill to Apache, then east on Apache, stopping west of McClintock Drive near the existing light-rail line.
The second option would create a 2.8-mile route from downtown that would run a similar path south on Mill and east on Apache but stop at Rural Road and would include a leg that runs east on Rio Salado Parkway from Mill, stopping just west of Rural.
The council gave Banta approval to study the two extensions. The study would include an analysis of capital and operating costs, ridership and station locations and a public review.
The council also gave Banta permission to examine the potential for a public-private partnership to pay for an extension of the downtown line from Mill that would run east on Rio Salado and could travel past Town Lake and Tempe Marketplace to the new Chicago Cubs spring-training complex in Mesa.
Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell, who has long supported the Rio Salado alignment, recently attended a meeting with ASU President Michael Crow and Mesa Mayor Scott Smith to discuss public-private opportunities for that streetcar line.
Tempe Councilman Kolby Granville, who has been a vocal opponent of the streetcar’s original extension from downtown south to neighborhoods, said he considers the realignment an opportunity to build a rail line that would serve a greater number of residents.
Tempe invested time and money over the past several years in fine-tuning its streetcar proposal for the 2.6-mile route.
The rail line would have had about 13 stops and run north on Mill from Southern to Rio Salado, then west to Ash, south to University Drive, east to Mill and then south on Mill to Southern.
Some Mill Avenue merchants have said they are worried that construction on the downtown route would create economic hardships if potential customers avoid the area because of traffic woes.
But streetcar tracks do not typically run as deep as those for light rail, so there is often less need to move utility lines, which would minimize construction time and impact.
Unlike light rail, which operates in an exclusive lane, the Tempe streetcar would run in the same lane as automobile traffic.
Tempe officials have said that much of the sidewalks could remain intact because no exclusive lane would need to be built.
Portions of the street could potentially be reopened in the evening when construction stops.
That would help downtown merchants who rely on their night business.
Many residents living south of downtown applauded the original plan because it would connect their neighborhoods with the city’s popular Mill Avenue District.
“I’m sorry we didn’t get the money for the other alignment because I know that’s something that the region was looking forward to, but I never really felt comfortable with it going past (ASU) Gammage,” Councilwoman Onnie Shekerjian said.
The majority of the council considers the streetcar to be an economic engine that will drive development.
But Councilwoman Robin Arredondo-Savage has sided with taxpayers who balked at the $129million price tag to build a transit system that would have run only 2.6miles.
At Thursday’s meeting, Arredondo-Savage said she remains skeptical. Granville said he now backs the downtown loop and the extension on Apache because it serves the city’s “urban core.”
“It’s exactly what a streetcar should be,” he said.
A streetcar named Mother-May-I
Tempe has to rejigger a proposed streetcar route. Why? Because federal officials didn’t like the original route. Why should the views of federal officials trump those of local ones? Because the feds are being asked to pick up a third of the tab. There may remain a rationale for federal involvement in maintaining and expanding interstate highways. But there never was one for local transit projects. Local officials should make the decisions and raise the dough to pay for them.
Tempe Center for the Arts
Tempe Cesspool for the Arts