Businesses brace for Tucson's modern streetcar construction

Eventually, 4th Avenue will look something like this.

Businesses brace for Tucson's modern streetcar construction

CREATED Apr 8, 2012

Reporter: Valerie Cavazos
Web Producer: Chuck Meyer

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Businesses have been bracing for it -- for months. Construction of Tucson's modern streetcar has finally gotten underway.

Phase one began with crews working on building the line -- starting with two locations --- 4th Avenue and Congress.

Up and down 4th Avenue -- you'll see multiple modes of transportation. This modern streetcar will be another one in the mix after about a year and three months of construction.

Signs are posted on opposite ends of the first construction zone -- on 4th Avenue -- from 6th Street to University Boulevard. Crews will also be working on Congress -- from Toole to Stone Avenue.

Some merchants have been upset about the prospect of losing business while traffic is blocked for a few months, but some have since changed their minds.

"They've planned it for a long time and I think they're just going to do what they can to keep it as limited trouble as possible," said Connie Billings of Creative Ventures.

"It's going to be hard to park down here, but then we all thought about it, and in the end, it's going to be a short process, shorter than the underpass was and it's going to bring a lot of business -- from downtown -- from the university -- they're all going to be connected," said Gabrielle Painter of Delectables.

Some University of Arizona we spoke to told us that they usually don't go to the downtown area because they have no way to get there. "I think it would make us more prone to head out there because a lot of people don't have cars," said UA student CJ Dozier.

Another UA student, Gina Weisman, said "I don't have a car and the only way to get down there is if I pay an expensive taxi so it would be nice to get down there."

And headed in the opposite direction, downtown resident  Alejandro Granillo welcomes a cheaper option to get to the UA. "I go to the University a lot. I come down here to 4th avenue. I think it will be great," said Granillo.

But not all downtown residents are as enthusiastic.  Rusty Block says he's worried the streetcar will disrupt his sleep. "When the trolleys go by they would vibrate and wake me up. The thing weighs 25 tons. It's not a light vehicle. It's a light rail, but it makes the earth shake," said Block.

4th Avenue merchants tell us that the sidewalks will be open during the construction. Crews will be working from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Monday and Tuesday -- some streets downtown will be closed overnight to restripe the roadways. They include sections of Congress, Toole Avenue, Alameda Avenue, and 6th Avenue. Crews will be putting up temporary traffic lights -- and 4 way stop signs. For more information -- click here.