A Street Car Named Nada

Big news for Tucson. We can spend even more money on yet another streetcar project.

The Tucson Modern Streetcar just got approval from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to go ahead and proceed with their final design.

First I must clarify.  The Tucson Modern Streetcar Project is a totally different from the the Old Pueblo Trolley Project.  The Trolley Project connects the University of Arizona campus to downtown Tucson. The NEW Streetcar Project will be much better because it will connect the University of Arizona to downtown Tucson.  See the map.

The NEW Tucson Modern Streetcar will be a 3.9 mile rail transit system connecting the Arizona Health Sciences Center, University of Arizona, Main Gate Square, 4th Avenue Shopping District, and much, much more. According to the Tucson Transit Study website, this economic calamity is only going to cost $150 million dollars.  According to my old-school math, IF this comes in on budget, [yeah right] that breaks down to $38.46 million per mile.

Sleepy Tucson voters approved a 1/2 cent sales tax increase back in 2006 for half the cost of the modern streetcar project.  “Federal funds” would be matching the targeted $75 million raised  from the tax increase.  Tucsonans fell for that old “shell game” once again. (Apparently these same sleepy voters forget that those federal funds come from their own wallets, but I digress…).

The FTA states Tucson can “incur costs” for rails, ties, demolition, commodities and other specialized equipment. But all is not guaranteed.  The FTA goes on to say it’s not a commitment on the part of the government that it will approve future federal funds.  The city undertakes “these activities at its own risk“.

The FTA must have seen the way Tucson’s City Council handled Rio Nuevo.

Let the fun begin with this quote from Tucson Transportation Director Jim Glock:

“We’re going to provide a modern streetcar to this community by hook or by crook” .

Looking at the track record of Tucson’s City Council,  I’m going to go with “B”, Meredith, by crook.  Confidence abounds everywhere in the Tucson leadership, first at the Federal level:

The federal government now believes that Tucson can “pull it off” and has allowed the city to enter into the final design as an exempt project.  But the construction process must still be approved and that comes next.  It could come in January. [Uh-huh].

And now at the local level:

Jimmy Glock continues “I’m cautiously optimistic that we’re going to fare well. It’s been a long road getting here to date and you never know”.

And wrapping up this trifecta recipe for disaster, our own Raul Grijalva weighs in with his expert opinion.

“The Streetcar project will help Tucsonans connect to each other and will encourage the economic vitality of our city and revitalization of our Downtown.”

Hey Raul, you forget to get in your customary “rich cultural heritage” and “Tucson’s diversity” lines in your press release.

So there you have it, yet another Street Car project coming our way.  The Old Pueblo Trolley has really helped revitalize Downtown Tucson. 4th Ave tie-dye shirt sales are up, Medusa Hookah Lounge’s business is booming and the Sharks Bar is still hanging in there.   Tucson’s city council doubled-down on development with the $47 million 4th Ave underpass. (That came in only $15 million over budget).  Now Tucson with “cautious optimism“, is going to, someday, maybe,  “pull it off” and have another $150 million streetcar that starts nowhere and ends up leaving Tucsonans with nothing.

Just remember, even the Feds understand, “The city undertakes “these activities at its own risk“”.  We’ve been warned.


  1. Wow! Papatodd manages to insult Pima County voters, small business owners AND hispanics in one post while still cutting out important facts!

    Here’s today’s pop-quiz: what important facts did papatodd omit (again) from his piece?

  2. Hey Kenny, here is a fact for you. Tucson is 195.1 square miles (Wiki it if you don’t believe me) So how is that 3.9 mile stretch of track going to help anybody in the city? How is that $150 million dollars being spent going to help? What facts am I missing? Let’s start here with your pop-quiz; the city council just spent $47 million for the 4th Ave underpass. With what results? Huh? Please list for me the great results of THAT project?

  3. Papatodd, thank you for all the numbers. They have nothing to do with your post but that’s just how you roll.

    You don’t like streetcars. We get it. Too bad you lost the RTA election and the people won.

    So, why did you omit from your post the FTA doesn’t give out dollars? Only Congress can appropriate funds. At least we all can see your discomfort with the Constitution.

    Things papatodd can’t stand:
    1. The Constitution
    2. Hispanics
    3. Small business owners
    4. Voters
    5. Democracy
    6. Facts

    Drill, baby, drill!

  4. Dearest Kenny,
    Thank you for bringing so many important facts to the table. You really helped to clarify the economic impact of these projects to the city of Tucson.

  5. Papatodd, I guess your psychic readers understood your post was about “economic impact.”

  6. Dear Kenny,
    Tank you so much for your application as editor. The job position has been filled.

    And speaking of facts, if I hated Hispanics (your words) so much, then why wold I put up a post on my site welcoming the new Arizona GOP HISPANIC group,the Somos Republicans? (Dated Sept. 15th)
    Get YOUR facts straight, Mr Jacobs.
    PS. I do not have a problem with small business-owners either. My wife and I own three businesses.
    But thanks for playing…….

  7. Papatodd, you have an editor? lol

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