Reporter: Craig Smith
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The City of Tucson is showing off its streetcar plans and promising to push for a quick installation to minimize disruption to businesses along the route.
We often hear Tucsonans call for spending the almost 200 million dollars on other priorities but city staff says there are strings attached that tie the money to the streetcar only.
A large crowd came to the morning meeting to hear how the project will build out in phases to reduce the amount of time construction interferes with business and traffic on the route.
Daniel Matlick, the President of the 4th Avenue Merchants Association worries about the construction's impact on merchants, and on the twice a year street fairs so important to 4th Avenue business.
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked Matlick: "I understand as far as the street fairs go that they've pledged to stop construction for the street fairs. Is that a total answer or are you still concerned about the effect?"
Matlick: "I think they've gonna do their best to work around it. I think there will still be connectors and side streets and access and several other factors. We haven't met with the construction crews yet to we're looking forward to do that and make sure we're all on the same page."
We often hear from viewers who say very clearly they think millions for the streetcar is a waste and that the money should go to other priorities like police or pothole repair.
But city staff says that money comes from Regional Transportation Authority bonds and federal grants that can not be used for anything else.
Tucson Department of Transportation co-ordinator Shellie Ginn says, "The funding sources, even though there's many for the street car all have strings attached where if you do to use it specifically for the street car you have to give it back. You cannot use it for any types of programs."
Craig Smith asked: "So basically RTA money must go for streetcar, Federal money simply goes somewhere else?"
Ginn: "Exactly. It goes right back to the Federal government. They've got a huge amount of projects there that they would be passing that funding on to if we chose not to utilize it for out project."
Project managers say they're planning on the streetcars being ready to give you a lift, by late next year.
There are two more public workshops on the project:
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Tucson High School – Cafeteria
400 North 2nd Avenue
5:30 - 7:30 p.m. – Presentation 5:45 p.m.
Parking in Tucson High lot
Thursday, March 8, 2012
Tucson Fire Central
300 South Fire Central Place
2 - 4 p.m. – Presentation 2:15 p.m.
Parking in TCC lot B, access off of Granada