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Some Downtown streets to close for Sun Link celebrations

City officials will close some streets and restrict traffic on others overnight Thursday and into Friday as festivities Downtown mark the opening of the Sun Link streetcar. ... Read more»

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7 comments on this story

1
1760 comments
Jul 23, 2014, 9:20 am
-1 +1

$197 million divided by the last population count of Tucson at 520,116 (2013) comes to $378.76 for every man, woman, and child who lived in the city limits last year. This isn’t even counting the small businesses that were sacrificed for the unnecessarily-long construction, and the financial strain on business that did survive, also.

What was that about “free” rides, again?

2
4 comments
Jul 23, 2014, 10:28 am
-1 +1

Breaking down the cost by citizen is a horrible way to justify government waste. Using that methodology, you would never approve ANY government funded projects. The Street Car will have many benefits to our community outside the tangible cost benefits you seek. It will help Tucson look more attractive to outside investment, it will lead to a reduction in traffic along street car routes (how much is yet to be seen), it will reduce potential intoxicated drivers, it has already created temporary and permanent jobs and it will reduce air and street pollution.

Ultimately, those reasons are short term. The true reason to spend so much now on a street car system that has a limited foot print, is to get the foundation done. The track, the cars and the maintenance facility lay the initial ground work for future expansion to areas of the city not yet served. Robust Public Transportation will be needed if Tucson is to remain a relevant city. As cities across the United States condense and build up, rather than out, Tucson will be left behind if it does not follow.

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never see”

3
1760 comments
Jul 23, 2014, 11:00 am
-1 +1

@dsmith25

While your argument is civil and somewhat lucid, I just can’t see what you’re seeing. This is a bus on tracks. That’s all it is.

I might find this project less difficult to accept had we adopted the Phoenix model. Their light rail stays out of the way of traffic, and the traffic lights are synchronized to let their train through so the only thing Phoenix’s train has to stop for is passengers. Had we adopted that, I would still be irked that the project was confined to the only two parts of town the City Council realizes even exists, but it would have made more sense to me. The Tucson model makes zero sense to me.

The Tucson choo choo train doesn’t alleviate traffic one bit, it is just becoming a part of it. It is a bus on tracks, very expensive tracks. Once the honeymoon period expires, the only people riding it are the ones who were riding buses and shuttles before it. It is serving a very small part of town. Most people will end up driving to park to ride it. It isn’t taking ANY cars off of the road. And, a small footprint? I’ve seen the route. The spiderwebs of wires is very ugly and far from “small”.

I am not suggesting no civic improvements be made in Tucson. On the contrary, there is a vast amount of civic improvements Tucson is long overdue for (decades overdue, in some cases). I would love to see some tax money invested in relevant projects. What I want is for that tax money to be responsibly managed and wisely spent. The streetcar is neither of those things. Tucson is already not a relevant city, and it has already been left behind. We ALL know more than one person who has left the Tucson area because they could not find a decent paying job here. A technology that is outdated by about a century is not an answer for anything and will not help this community one bit in the long term.

The foundation? It took roughly a decade for this city to “plan” the route, to scam the federal government for money to get it done, and then to actually build the thing. Future expansion of this? Give me a break…

This tree won’t provide any shade because it was planted in dirt with toxic chemicals mixed in, such as the first decade of Rio Nuevo, or Tucson Electric Park. Yet another boondoggle this Tucson doesn’t need and can’t afford.

When I think about all the financial havoc the choo choo train has caused, and will continue to cause, I am forced to wonder how much of a crosstown freeway could have been built with that money. That’s something that is actually needed here, and will actually serve to attract outside investment to this community. Not too many businesses want to set up shop in a place where it can take you a half an hour or more to drive 10 miles across town. Or, hell, why not fix the roads we do have like Grant Road or Valencia Road?

4
4 comments
Jul 23, 2014, 1:20 pm
-0 +0

@Bret Linden

The Phoenix model would have cost a great deal more (increasing the cost per citizen argument in your first comment) and is not really needed on the current route. Stopping at lights is similar to the way Portlands Street Car functions currently.

The long term plan is to reduce the amount of traffic going through downtown and that is why they are connecting Aviation to 6th street. Once that connection is completed, the amount of through traffic on the street car route will be reduced and Street Car right away can be considered.  I agree however that future Street Car expansion should consider intersection right away.
I want to address your 4th, 5th, and 6th paragraph. Although your concerns are valid, your insistence on referring to it as a Choo Choo Train and your overall pessimistic attitude towards the process and Tucson in general really gets to the heart of your argument. You believe that Tucson is already lost and we should give up. It doesnt really matter what solution would have been developed, you would have found a way to tie it back to the Rio Nuevo and there for dismiss it. Government mismanagement is hardly a uniquely Tucson activity but it is something we need to combat.  However, I would not include the Street Car in that category. Anyone who talks about project overruns and increases cost estimates have never managed a project of this scale or complexity.

I do know people who have left Tucson for better jobs and I know people who have moved here for better jobs that has nothing to do with the street car.

Here is some info on freeway constructions costs through urban areas: In 1994 it cost Los Angeles 17.7 Million per mile of freeway. In 1996, it cost New York $333 Million per mile of Freeway.

Source:
[url=http://www-pam.usc.edu/volume2/v2i1a3s2.html ]http://www-pam.usc.edu/volume2/v2i1a3s2.html
[/url]

5
1760 comments
Jul 24, 2014, 9:02 am
-0 +0

Well, I typed out this huge response yesterday, addressing every one of your points. Then I clicked submit, was then told that my response exceeded the 3000 character limit, hit back on my browser, and then what I painstakingly typed was all gone. Dylan, you have GOT to fix that. But, after an overnight cooling-off period, I am ready to try this again.

dsmith25 wrote:

@Bret Linden
The Phoenix model would have cost a great deal more (increasing the cost per citizen argument in your first comment) and is not really needed on the current route. Stopping at lights is similar to the way Portlands Street Car functions currently.

First off, if we absolutely have to do this anyway, we should do it right. We’re already paying close to $200m for what really should be a $50 million job, what’s another few bucks to get it done right. Yeah, that’s right…I don’t buy for one minute that this project is really worth anywhere near what we paid for it. Some tracks, some wires, and a handful of cars and a hanger for them, $200m? Please…

And, why in the world have we been looking to Portland as a role model? We should be looking to Albuquerque if we want a model how to do things. Their population is roughly equal to ours, and they’re also in this region. They started their downtown revitalization effort right around the same time we did, the late 90’s. Theirs was complete several years earlier, was done without the theft of $230m, and to the best of my knowledge doesn’t include a streetcar. I have friends who live in Albuquerque (formerly of Tucson, but they left because there are almost no jobs here). They tell me that their downtown is thriving.

continued…

6
1760 comments
Jul 24, 2014, 9:04 am
-0 +0

...continued

The long term plan is to reduce the amount of traffic going through downtown and that is why they are connecting Aviation to 6th street. Once that connection is completed, the amount of through traffic on the street car route will be reduced and Street Car right away can be considered.  I agree however that future Street Car expansion should consider intersection right away.

I’ve been hearing promises since the 80’s that Aviation would connect to either 6th street, or I-10 like it really should. There was footdragging and footdragging and footdragging, then that idea was finally killed because a handful of whiny idiots thought that warehouses had historical value. Historical value in warehouses. What great event happened there? People stored stuff. Yeah, real historic. (rolls eyes)

I may have said this before, but after the honeymoon period, the only people riding the streetcar will be the people who were taking the bus. This is appropriate because all the streetcar is is a bus on tracks, anyway. People wanting to visit downtown will end up driving their car downtown to ride the streetcar, anyway. So, ultimately, this streetcar will end up removing a grand total of zero cars from the road.

I want to address your 4th, 5th, and 6th paragraph. Although your concerns are valid, your insistence on referring to it as a Choo Choo Train and your overall pessimistic attitude towards the process and Tucson in general really gets to the heart of your argument. You believe that Tucson is already lost and we should give up. It doesnt really matter what solution would have been developed, you would have found a way to tie it back to the Rio Nuevo and there for dismiss it. Government mismanagement is hardly a uniquely Tucson activity but it is something we need to combat.  However, I would not include the Street Car in that category.

The streetcar, the Rio Nuevo theft and subsequent lack of consequences, Tucson Electric Park, all symptoms of the same problem: incompetent and/or corrupt leadership. Pessimistic? You bet I am. I have repeatedly said that Tucson has the potential to be one of America’s greatest cities, but the first obstacle we need to overcome to get there is we need better leaders. We’re never going to get that until we make the electorate understand that elections have consequences. What’s the definition of insanity? Voting in the same people over and over again and expecting them to do something different. As long as voters are basing their votes on skin color, or leaving an incompetent in an office because they hate a paradigm of what Republicans are, we’re never going to move forward here. So, yes, as long as the current leadership stays in place this town is a lost cause. You want to combat corruption and incompetence in government? You do it at the polling place. This town just doesn’t seem to get that.

continued…

7
1760 comments
Jul 24, 2014, 9:06 am
-0 +0

...continued

Anyone who talks about project overruns and increases cost estimates have never managed a project of this scale or complexity.

Don’t try to make this exclusive to the choo choo train. Off the top of my head I can’t think of one recent public works project managed by the COT that hasn’t been both late and over budget. Can you?

I do know people who have left Tucson for better jobs and I know people who have moved here for better jobs that has nothing to do with the street car.

Again, choo choo train symptom of the same problem. And, people moving here for a better job? Where do these people work? Seriously, I’d really like to know this one. I’ll send them a resume.

Here is some info on freeway constructions costs through urban areas: In 1994 it cost Los Angeles 17.7 Million per mile of freeway. In 1996, it cost New York $333 Million per mile of Freeway.
Source:
[url=http://www-pam.usc.edu/volume2/v2i1a3s2.html ]http://www-pam.usc.edu/volume2/v2i1a3s2.html
[/url]

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