News Ticker

Cost Estimates Up on Tempe Streetcar

Credit: Valley Metro

By Roland Murphy for Arizona Builder’s Exchange

With design drawings having reached the 60 percent completion point in October, construction cost estimates for the Tempe Streetcar project have gone up, according to a memo from the Public Works Department to the City Council in advance of a planned Dec. 7 update presentation.

In its report on the project, KJZZ quoted Tempe spokeswoman Amanda Nelson as saying material and labor availability could increase the project’s estimated $186M price tag. “This has to do with there’s a higher number of projects like this that are competing for those materials and for labor as well as reconstruction efforts that are happening after the major hurricanes that we’ve seen throughout the country,” Nelson told the station.

According to the update memo, Valley Metro and Tempe staff have undertaken “extensive value engineering exercises to conserve costs.” Components staff examination included track alignment, traffic signal technology, station materials and construction work hours. Staff claims progress has been made and cost conservation efforts will continue. The Federal Transit Administration has granted a timeline extension to accommodate the exercises.

Other items reviewed in the memo include:

  • Rail storage and on-site welding. Four sites along the line have been selected for storing and welding rail. These will be in place for most of 2018 and 2019. Storing and welding rail along the route minimizes material transportation costs and traffic impacts, staff says.
  • Staff has examined several design alternatives for Rio Salado Parkway. They have determined a single-track operation between Marina Heights and Hayden Ferry will best avoid conflicts with existing infrastructure constraints and best maintain east-west traffic lanes.
  • Four Tractor Power Substations are planned for the project. Design is advancing toward plan review. Locations are still being evaluated and discussed, and, depending on power needs and battery performance, one substation may ultimately be eliminated.
  • Community outreach and business assistance efforts are ongoing and expanding as the project progresses. These include updates by email every two weeks, twice monthly public meetup events, development of a 15-20 person Community Advisory Board, and a campaign to highlight businesses along the route and encourage the public to patronize them throughout the construction process.

Next Steps

Utility relocation and other preliminary construction efforts began in June and will proceed through 2019, according to the memo.

Final design and arrival of the rail material itself is expected early next year. A final design open house and launch of the Community Advisory Board will happen in the Spring.

The next staff update to the council will be March 1.

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