Is the Streetcar derailing the Street Fair?

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Is the Streetcar derailing the Street Fair?

By Craig Smith. CREATED Jan 9, 2014

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Tucson's modern street car is getting in the way of the semi-annual 4th Avenue Street Fair.
Fair organizers say more than 70 vendors- stand to lose their spots on 4th because of testing scheduled for the same weekend.  The City of Tucson disputes that.
Earlier this week--in the wee hours of the morning- the third streetcar arrived. Four more are on the way--and they all have to be tested.

The Street Fair had agreed to shift a block worth of vendors to clear this area so street cars can come out of their garage and continue their testing.
Now fair organizers want the city to suspend testing for four days of street fair and the city plans to keep the cars rolling.

The twice a year Street Fair brings in thousand of people and thousands of dollars for the 4th Avenue Merchant's Association.
The Street Car is a high dollar, high stakes project pushing to finish testing so it's cleared for paying passengers.
The fair altered its layout to clear the tracks for the street car but now organizers want the cars to stop for four days to let the fair go back to it's old layout.

The area of 3rd Avenue and 8th Street is a couple of blocks east of the streetcar line and the street fair but it figures into this dispute.
Fair organizers worried a flood control project from Pima County and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may block this area just when street fair organizers say they need it clear.
$th Avenue Merchants Association Director John Sedwick says, "I needed to know if 8th Street and 3rd Avenue were gonna be open.  If they weren't, then I have access issues for the Fire Department and all sorts of other reasons that a realignment could not take place if we had to close 8th Street and 3rd Avenue."

Sedwick says suspending streetcar testing for four days would allow the fair to stay with the old layout. If it can't, he says he'll have to tell 71 artists they can't have sales booths.
The city says it's required to do so much testing it can't give up those four days especially because some cars were delivered late.

Assistant City Manager Albert Elias says, "We've lost what float we had in making sure we have adequate time for testing."

But city officials say they just got a promise from the Corps of Engineers the intersection will stay open until after the Spring Street Fair.

The Merchants Association says that does not solve the problem because there's no time to rework the fair layout.  They say this close to the Fair in March, the only thing that will help is suspending streetcar tests for four days and allow the Fair to regain the use of the 200 block of 4th Avenue.

Craig Smith

Craig Smith

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Craig enjoys using innovative writing and visuals to make difficult stories easier to understand. As a newsroom manager at KGUN 9, Craig was part of the team that won three best newscast awards from Arizona Associated Press