Tempe Streetcar

Tempe, Arizona

Award of Merit, Airport/Transport

Submitted By: Stacy and Witbeck Inc.

Owner: Valley Metro

Lead Design Firm: Stantec Consulting Services

General Contractor: Stacy and Witbeck

Project Management Consultant to Valley Metro: Infenix Systems and Communication

Subcontractor: Modern Railway Systems

Completed in May 2022, this 3-mile-long alignment serves students, professionals visitors and event-goers, passing through Arizona State University’s main campus, continuing by the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Gammage Theater, down Mill Avenue, the city’s hub of dining, shopping and nightlife and along Rio Salado Parkway to Tempe’s business district.

The $119.1-million CMAR project is the Valley of the Sun’s first modern streetcar and connects with the owner’s larger light rail system, making Tempe accessible by rail to the Phoenix metropolitan area, including Sky Harbor International Airport.

Completed below budget and on schedule, the project included 14 stations finished with public art, utility relocation, roadway reconstruction, track construction, signals and communications systems. A vehicle intersection became a roundabout to facilitate safe, efficient movements for the streetcar and vehicles. The streetcar takes a sharp turn through the center of the roundabout, while cars, buses, trucks and motorcycles travel through circular lanes along the circumference.

ASU and the city of Tempe host hundreds of events throughout the year, so minimizing the impact of construction on these events was paramount for success. To develop the construction schedule and phase plans and tie-ins with the light rail, the team met with stakeholders to learn about various schedules, including campus finals and move-ins, access requirements, restrictions for construction activities, travel routes and anticipated attendance. The team intensified work during holidays and winter breaks when students were off-campus and ridership levels were low.

Trees were also a factor. As a result, the streetcar vehicles are propelled by a combination of overhead catenary wire and stretches of off-wire battery power through downtown Mill Avenue to preserve the established tree-lined streets and the aesthetics of Tempe’s most popular nightlife destination.