Propsed streetcar would add more transportation options downtown Tempe

A streetcar system is being added to downtown Tempe, in addition to the buses and light rail already in the area.

The city of Tempe is slated to add a multi-million dollar streetcar project that will run throughout the city, a move that lawmakers hope will increase business in the downtown area. 

Tempe, which is already home to the inner-city Metro Light Rail, is expected to start construction on the project in 2017 and finish by 2019. 

The streetcar is expected to run along Rio Salado Parkway from Marina Heights, alongside Tempe Town Lake, west to Mill Avenue. It will also loop on Mill and Ash avenues and extend to Apache Boulevard before turning east to Dorsey Lane and ending at the Apache/Dorsey light rail station.  

The proposal suggests that it make 14 stops along its 3-mile route, compared to the light rail’s three in the same area.

Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell, who is also Valley Metro Rail Board Vice Chair, said he hopes the streetcar project will lead to a revitalization and increase workforce in the area. 

The project is expected to cost $177 million, which will come from Proposition 400 funds — a voter-approved initiative that extended a half-cent transportation tax for 20 years — local funds and federal grant dollars. 

In his latest budget proposal, President Barack Obama recommended that $75 million in federal funding be designated to the project. If Congress approves the budget in fall 2016, more than 40 percent of the project will be financed federally.

Mitchell said Obama’s budget proposal demonstrates both city lawmakers and residents’ confidence in the streetcar’s projected success.

“Being included in the President’s budget shows we have a strong project with community and regional support,” he said in a statement.  “We would like to thank the Federal Transit Administration for their continued support, and we’re excited to work with Congress in order to make sure this important investment is funded.”

Downtown Tempe Authority Executive Director Kate Borders said the project is expected to benefit the downtown Tempe area, which has grown exponentially since 2014. 

“Having a streetcar system that connects to the regional rail system will benefit our entire downtown Tempe community,” she said in a statement. “This is an exciting step forward, ensuring that this investment will generate added appeal as a vibrant destination for all ages.”

Proposed Streetcar Route

The proposed route consists of 14 stops. Click each stop to reveal a fact about the streetcar

Reach the reporter at Jlsuerth@asu.edu or on Twitter at @SuerthJessica.

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