First Stretch of Streetcar Track in Place on 4th Avenue

July 2, 2012

By Teya Vitu

The last weekend of June saw street pavement go down on the first completed stretch of the streetcar route on 4thAvenue.

Streetcar tracks on 4th Avenue are encased in concrete and the street has been paved.

The asphalt still must cure and lane stripes need to be painted, but 4th Avenue between University Boulevard and 6thStreet should open back up for traffic in the second week of July, said Jesse Gutierrez, the streetcar project construction manager for the city Transportation Department.

The month of June saw those tracks encased in concrete and the street dirt was compacted to prepare it for pavement.

As soon as the University-to-6th segment reopens, the 4th Avenue fences will move to the 6th Street to 9th Street stretch for the next segment of streetcar track installation.

“The next section that will be done is 2nd Street on the University of Arizona campus,” Gutierrez said.

The dirt on 2nd Street is getting compacted to a flat level within 200th of an inch to get the surface ready for track installation. The 2nd Street work now is between Park Avenue and Palm Road and from Highland Avenue to Warren Avenue.

“Two weeks from now we will bring rail in down here,” Gutierrez said on a June 29 tour of all the streetcar construction zones.

4th Avenue paving started on Saturday, June 30. Photo courtesy of Josh Weaver.

University Boulevard should see track installation start in the third week of July from Park Avenue to Third Avenue. Right now, crews are hooking homes and businesses to the new water and sewer lines under University.

The goal is to get UA work done before students return for the fall semester in August.

Luis G. Gutierrez Bridge

The middle of July should also see the opening of the Luis G. Gutierrez Bridge for pedestrian and bicycles traffic only. This is the bridge that carries Cushing Street and the streetcar across the Santa Cruz River and into the Mercado and Mission Districts of Menlo Park.

The artistry is in place now on the Luis G. Gutierrez Bridge, which should be ready for pedestrians and bicyclists by mid-July.

During June, the bridge (earlier called the Cushing Street Bridge) got its artistic touches, most notably the six, green shade canopies above each sidewalk that give the sense of ship’s sails. The canopies are perforated with small cottonwood leaf patterns, and at each base will be a cut-out of a historic image such as a propeller or railroad spike that will project onto the sidewalk below.

The Gutierrez Bridge marries historic with modern. The canopies are the modern touch and the arched balustrade railings along the sidewalks and the steps down to the river evoke the 1920s balustrades on the Stone Avenue underpass.

Car traffic will not be allowed on the Gutierrez Bridge until next year. The bridge street surface will not be paved until streetcar tracks are installed in late 2012 or early 2013.

Congress Street

Visually speaking, Congress Street has not seen much change in the past month in the construction zone from 5th Avenue to Stone Avenue.

The final water connections are being made to Congress Street businesses. Next come new traffic signals.

But the Old Pueblo Trackworks crews are transitioning from water/sewer line work to electrical work for new traffic lights and street lights.

Crews are now continuing to hook individual customers up to the new water and sewer systems.

“All the new systems were being tested, that’s what we’ve been doing the last two weeks,” Gutierrez said.

The Congress intersections at 6th Avenue, Scott Avenue, Stone Avenue and Church Avenue will all get new traffic lights during July.

“It’s old stuff. It’s at the end of it’s life,” Gutierrez said about the traffic signal system. “Some of the conduits were in conflict with our work.”

Once the lighting is done, streetcar tracks will be installed on Congress with the estimated completion of work in mid-August.

The Old Pueblo Trackworks crews – a partnership with Granite Construction and Lakeville, Minn.-based RailWorks Track Systems – have gotten a taste of the string of days hovering around 106 degrees. They are working 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. shifts and 5 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. shifts.

“Some are working extended shifts from 5 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.,” Gutierrez said.