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Monday, October 20, 2014 | Last updated: 3:52pm

Park Ave. businesses say streetcar work won't affect business



Despite Park Avenue’s closure from University Boulevard to Second Street, business owners near the intersection say they’re not worried about losing too much business.

Holiday events and having students constantly walking nearby will help businesses maintain sales, said Ashia Flores, assistant manager of American Apparel on University Boulevard.

“We’re lucky enough to be by the university where students are going to want to get out regardless,” Flores said. “I think they’ll keep coming here regardless of the construction.”

Park Avenue closed Monday and will remain closed until Thanksgiving weekend. The street will re-open from Nov. 22 to Nov. 25 for the UA versus ASU football game and throughout the holiday weekend. Park Avenue will close on Nov. 26 and remain closed until February, according to Jesse Gutierrez, streetcar construction manager.

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By Jordin O'Connor / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Jordin O'Connor / Arizona Daily Wildcat Construction on Park Avenue and University Boulevard

“There’s a lot of stuff we can do from here until the ASU game so we might as well get in there and do it,” Gutierrez said.

The contractor has started working on replacing, upgrading and relocating utilities on Park Avenue between University Boulevard and Second Street. Utility companies are taking advantage of the road being torn up to make improvements to utilities, something that will be more difficult to do once streetcar tracks are installed.

“If somebody goes to try to install a water line two years from now they’re going to have to go underneath the tracks, and the streetcar is running, and that’s almost impossible to do,” Gutierrez said. “Some are still under the streetcar route but they last 100 years, so it won’t be an issue.”

Gutierrez said construction is a month ahead of schedule in some parts of the university and Fourth Avenue. In the original schedule, the Mountain Avenue and Second Street was supposed to be worked on during winter break, he added.

“We’re done already [with that intersection],” Gutierrez said. “So it’s looking good. I think we’re in good shape.”

The Warren Avenue underpass, which the contractor began working on at the end of July, will remain closed through the end of spring semester. The contractor still has a lot of work to do, mostly excavating and removing everything underneath in order to install the rail, according to Gutierrez.

Bill Davidson, public information and marketing manager of UA Parking and Transportation Services, said he continues to attend weekly meetings to keep up with the construction schedule and share current information with the UA community. Feedback from the community has decreased recently, according to Davidson, who said people probably stopped messaging him once Second Street at Mountain Avenue opened.

“I think people understand the process now and have a better understanding of what to expect,” Davidson said. “We’re trying to do our best to communicate accurate information to the campus as soon as we know it.”

Moni Miller, owner of Cry Baby Couture on University Boulevard, said that the unique nature of University Boulevard keeps people coming. People coming home for the holidays, visiting the University, attending events at Centennial Hall, or going holiday shopping keep businesses on University Boulevard from being affected by construction, she added.

“Centennial Hall … it floods this place with people,” Miller said.
The Tucson Modern Streetcar Project construction was slated to last 475 days. Now 237 days into the project, Gutierrez said construction is about 50 percent complete.


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