Reporter: Craig Smith
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Construction of Tucson's modern street car is about to begin, but other construction to prep for the project has been under way for several months.
Project organizers are planning to get the work done and reduce some of the inevitable hassles.
The project spreads almost four miles and costs almost 200 million dollars. Project organizers say they're still working out the fine points of precisely when work will be done at various parts of the route.
But they say they're working to get things rolling as soon as they can in a way designed to rock businesses as little as possible.
The streetcar plan says each streetcar will be able to carry 180 passengers to about 150 retailers and other businesses, as it goes from the U of A Medical Center, past the University, down 4th Avenue and through downtown.
But the promise of a smooth ride for businesses later requires riding out some rough spots right now.
Official start on the line itself is still a few days away but there's already been plenty of work to move underground utilities.
At Miller's Surplus, George Landa says construction crimped his holiday business and it's still hurting him.
"We're losing at least four thousand dollars a day, which for a small business is a lot."
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked: :How long can that go on?"
Landa: "We don't know. We're actually having meetings. We've had to cut people's hours which we didn't want to do and we're really concerned."
Project manager Jesse Gutierrez says the clock will start ticking soon on the roughly year and three months contractors have to build the line but they're trying to time the work so no one area is disrupted for more than three months.
Craig Smith asked: "Are there other things you can do to minimize the disruption, and help them stay in business?"
Jesse Gutierrez: "One of the things we're looking at is trying to get in and out of these work zones as soon as possible. Expedite the construction; and that's why we limited the time of the construction to 475 days. In conjunction with that we are going to provide pedestrian access, vehicular traffic access and just make sure residents, business owners and the public can get around the construction as easy as possible."
The Regional Transportation Authority has businesses counselors to help businesses stay healthy through construction.
George Landa at Miller's Surplus did not find the advice very useful but some businesses people in other construction zones have found it worthwhile.
There are three pre-construction open houses to help citizens learn more about the plan:
Tuesday, March 6th
Arizona Historical Society
949 East 2nd Street
Parking in Main Gate Garage
Wednesday, March 7th
Tucson High School-Cafeteria
400 North 2nd Avenue
Parking in Tucson High lot
Thursday, March 8th
Tucson Fire Central
300 South Fire Central Place
Parking in TCC Lot B, access off Granada