Recently, METRO and the City of Tempe have been looking for feedback on potential routes for the Tempe Streetcar route.
— METRO light rail (@METROrail) June 6, 2013
Comment online thru June 30 on the two proposed Tempe streetcar routes at http://t.co/TtYjZVUQDK
— City of Tempe, AZ (@Tempegov) June 25, 2013
Hopefully, you are voicing your opinion via the survey they have available. It is quick, easy and painless. Try one of the links in their tweets or look for the Feedback form on the METRO’s Streetcar page.
There have been talks of a Tempe Streetcar for years. Federal funding, funding, route decisions, viability, cost of operations and maintenance, ridership, economic impact, cost vs. benefit analysis and more have been discussed in public and private meetings.
On May 15th of this year, METRO held a public meeting in Tempe to discuss new options. Apparently, the original route that “couldn’t be changed” a few years ago, has been changed based on new Federal Funding criteria. The map below shows the two choices.
On June 3rd, AZCentral wrote an article about the proposed new streetcar routes that also asked for public input.
“At this point, we are gathering input from the community,” she said. “At the same time, we’re also conducting a technical analysis looking at the cost estimates, at analyzing ridership and the density with the existing and future land use, and seeking out economic-development opportunities.” – Susan Tierney of Valley Metro via AZCentral
With the choices above, we have heard pros and cons for each. An “Our View” piece in the Tempe Republic on June 21 said – “Rio Salado is a bit more speculative than the other option but has great upside in the long run.”
One of our city council members was quoted in the AZCentral article as saying he likes the Apache route.
“My preference would be what’s going to make sense in terms of getting that federal funding and that is the route that goes from Apache up to Mill” - Tempe Council member Joel Navarro.
Um, both routes go from Apache to Mill.
So, both of the proposed streetcar routes go along Apache and we see that the Feds want density along with current and future economic-development opportunities.
The differences in routes are:
1. More of an eastern extension along Apache from where either route would end, at Rural Road. No Rio Salado leg east of Mill Avenue. ( Apache Route )
2. East on Apache to Rural Road and east on Rio Salado fro Mill Avenue. ( Apache-Rio Salado Route )
The Feds say that density and economic impact are big parts of their guidelines for passing out the winning lottery ticket that is Federal Funding. It’s an all or noting, use it or lose it proposal from what I understand.
Currently, Apache has a lot of density and more is coming, soon. At Apache and Rural, there is a ton of student housing. East of Rural, the thought must be to allow people to easily connect with light rail.
On Rio Salado, you don’t currently have as much density. You do have a lot of employees and you have residents at Hayden Ferry. I have a feeling that these employees and residents spend a lot of money in the community. You also have a big push by ASU to develop all of the vacant land along Rio Salado. Oh, and there’s that little $600 million Marina Heights project that would open at about the same time as the streetcar.
It sounds like the Tempe City Council has given Valley Metro the go-ahead to study future public-private partnerships to fund the eastern extension along Rio-Salado. Given the amount of land available and the potential of growth in the area, that would certainly seem to make some $ense.
What do you think about all of this stuff? Fill out METRO’s survey ( by June 30th ) and or leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts, too.