The Sun Link streetcar project was part of the $2.1 billion Regional Transportation Authority Plan, approved by Pima County voters in May 2006. The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) funded the project, along with federal and other regional funds, and co-managed the project with The City of Tucson.
Community Involvement – Throughout its development, the Tucson Streetcar Project Team sought community involvement and public input to help shape the course and direction of the project. A main component of this effort was the formation of a Community Liaison Group (CLG) made up of representatives of key stakeholder groups along the route alignment. The CLG was formed in 2004 and was instrumental as part of the extensive community outreach campaign utilized to ensure widespread public awareness of the alternative transit options under consideration.
Streetcar System – The electric rail system was designed for eight ADA-compliant streetcar vehicles to share a travel lane with other vehicles, and to be compatible with street parking. The streetcars accommodate bicycles and have easy roll-on access for wheelchairs and strollers. The vehicles stop at 23 points along the route.
Streetcar Cost and Funding Sources
To date, the streetcar system is the largest construction project ever taken on by the City of Tucson. Only a small portion was paid for with City funding.
The RTA contributed $75 million from its voter-approved plan for project construction and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) provided matching funds totaling $73 million to the City of Tucson. Altogether, the FTA and RTA funding paid for 75 percent of the total costs for development and construction of the system. The combined funding sources for the streetcar development and construction are listed below.
Federal funding sources
- $63 million – TIGER Grant awarded in February 2010
- $6 million – New Starts “Exempt” project
- $4 million – FTA Grant (HPP)
Local funding sources
- $75 million – Regional Transportation Authority
- $8.5 million – Public utilities (Water/Sewer)
- $4.1 million – TIP/PAG/Grants
- $2.9 million – The Gadsden Company
Other funding sources
- $20 million – City of Tucson Certificates of Participation/Grant Anticipation Notes
- $13 million – Luis G. Gutierrez (Cushing Street) Bridge
- $12.7 million – Regional Transportation Authority (streetcar operations)