Streetcar Tracks are Going Down at Main Gate Square and UA
By Teya Vitu
It’s streetcar track laying season at Main Gate Square and on 2nd Street on the University of Arizona campus.
In the rush to beat students back to campus, crews worked all hours over the weekend to lay track on University Boulevard from Park Avenue to Euclid Avenue. One set of track was encased in concrete on July 30 and the second set should get its concrete on Aug. 2.
After that, the Main Gate stretch of University Boulevard gets paved and reopened to traffic in the next couple weeks, said Jesse Gutierrez, the streetcar project construction manager for the city Transportation Department.
“It turns from this (just a dirt subgrade) to that (tracks in place) just like that,” Gutierrez said, comparing the University Boulevard stretches in both sides of Euclid.
On Friday, July 27, Main Gate Square was just a bare dirt road. By early Monday morning on July 30, 680 feet of University had tracks in concrete.
Once Main Gate is done, track work immediately crossed Euclid and continued to 3rd Avenue.
Just a couple blocks away on the UA campus, one set of 1,100 feet of track was set in concrete a week ago on 2nd Street from Park Avenue to Palm Road. The second set of tracks got their concrete on July 31.
The Main Gate and UA stretches are the second and third stretches to have track work completed for the modern streetcar. The segment of 4th Avenue from University Boulevard to Sixth Street reopened earlier in July after three months work to install 1,450 feet of track.
“This month, even though we’ve been hit with rain constantly, we’ve made a tremendous amount of progress,” Gutierrez said.
Now it’s the southern half of 4th Avenue’s turn. The pavement is torn up from 6th Street to 9th Street. Utility work, track installation and paving will keep that stretch closed to vehicle traffic until Thanksgiving (though businesses remain open), Gutierrez said.
A bit out of sight, the block structure of the streetcar’s Maintenance and Storage Facility has taken shape since April 30 with plumbing and electric conduits in place. The facility should be ready to house streetcars by mid-February.
By the week of Aug. 6, the Luis G. Gutierrez bridge across the Santa Cruz River should be ready for
pedestrians and bicyclists. The work is down to cosmetic touches like painting and landscaping.
The bridge, however, will not be open for motorized vehicle traffic yet because no roadway is in place as streetcar track installation does not come here until December-January.
Congress Street right now looks just like 1912 with packed dirt from Stone Avenue to 6th Avenue. Traffic light pole foundation work still needs to be completed before tracks and pavement can be installed.
“We’re at subgrade right now. There are no more trenches,” Gutierrez said. “This will be ready for rail soon.”
Between 5th and 6th avenues, Congress Street properties are still getting hooked up to the new waterline, but the full stretch of Congress from 5th Avenue to Stone Avenue should be ready for track installation by Labor Day.
“Somewhere in September we expect to have people driving on Congress
Street,” Gutierrez said.
Then work will earnestly move to Broadway, where night time waterline work has already been underway for about a month from Church Avenue to 5th Avenue, and there have already been lane restrictions.
Broadway will be shut to all traffic for one month starting Aug. 6 between Church and Stone avenues for sewer work.
Otherwise, Broadway will remain open to vehicle traffic, though with lane restrictions.