Tucson modern streetcar addresses UA, surrounding community concerns
Drew Gyorke / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Corky Poster, architect and planner for Poster Frost Mirto, discussed the need for investment in design and development along the streetcar route at an open house meeting at the Rialto Theatre in downtown Tucson.
Landowners and developers, city council members and other Tucson community members attended a design charrette to voice their concerns and make suggestions about development to the streetcar route, which runs through the UA campus, at the Rialto Theatre on Monday night.
The meeting was the first of several this week where community members can give their input on the route’s design. The county, city and Regional Transportation Authority intend to use the community’s input to properly create density along the route while still preserving historic neighborhoods and catering to people’s needs.
“We’ve got some very sensitive areas to get through and we can’t do that like a bull in a china shop,” said Corky Poster, architect and planner for Poster Frost Mirto. “We need to do that in a way that’s thoughtful and careful and listens very, very carefully to what people have to say in those areas.”
Substituting cars in downtown with alternate modes of transportation will ideally increase density without congesting downtown Tucson, according to Poster. In order to cater to the needs of non-drivers, investing in sidewalks and adding bike racks along the corridor is a necessity, Poster said.
“We don’t think there are any solutions that are rule-of-thumb solutions,” Poster added. “We need to take advantage of the transportation mode choices.”
David Heineking, director of UA Parking and Transportation Services, shared data with Poster regarding UA students and employees’ preferred transportation modes. Poster presented the data at Monday’s meeting, which said that 80 percent of UA students and employees who live within one mile of the university, walk, ride a bike or use alternate transportation modes to get to campus.
The meeting also included discussion about what types of retail and housing will be necessary along the route once the streetcar is running. Businesses along the streetcar route should lend themselves to alternate transportation, Poster said.
Steve Kozachik, the city’s Ward 6 council member, said retail and development should make sense and be varied.
“We need an eclectic mix of retails so it’s not just a bunch of bars,” Kozachik said.
Attendees wrote down and shared what they’d like to see and what their biggest concerns are regarding design along the route. Kate Randall, co-owner of Antigone Books on Fourth Avenue, requested that the streetcar construction schedule remain consistent and that the streetcar, once it begins operating, run past midnight.
Randi Dorman, president of the Museum of Contemporary Arts and a downtown developer, said she hopes the streetcar helps “bring Tucson into the 21st century” by creating encounters and inspiring new ideas.
“Those encounters don’t happen when you’re in your car,” Doorman said. “And they don’t happen when you don’t have places to gather comfortably together and easy ways to get there.”