News Ticker

Tempe Seeks Buried Lines for Trolley Route

Credit: East Valley Tribune

By Peter Cheng for East Valley Tribune

Tempe officials are proposing to bury trolley wires at several points along the streetcar line.

The council wants to bury lines on Mill Avenue between University Drive and Rio Salado Parkway, including the two “gateway” intersections. The streetcars would be equipped with batteries to power them along those sections.

Officials’ desire to maintain clear sightlines over some Tempe neighborhoods challenged the project design team into “uncharted territory,” said Valley Metro CEO Scott Smith, adding that the city will have to pay the bill for the modification.

Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell said there’s a reason for the effort in light of plans to add a trolley line: “We spend a lot of time trying to beautify our city. We’ve been trying to take down wires, but now we’re adding wires.”

Only Dallas and Nice, France use such a system, but Valley Metro officials say Tempe’s proposal is even more complicated than what is used in those cities.

And it could become even more complicated because former Tempe Mayor Neil Giuliano suggested earlier this month that another wireless section be added around the Gammage Curve.

“Gammage is, I think, clearly the most architecturally significant building in the city of Tempe,” he said, acknowledging that his own home faces the curve. During a hearing earlier this month, the City Council asked the design team to explore the option.

The design team – comprising representatives from Valley Metro, the Center for Transportation and the Environment and the city – presented four options to the council based on earlier studies and suggestions.

Councilmembers unanimously chose the most complicated option.

The tentatively approved design calls for the pantograph – the boom connecting the streetcar to the overhead power lines – to be raised or lowered six times along the three-mile route. The addition of Gammage to the plan would increase boom operations to eight.

Read more at East Valley Tribune.

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