City officially chooses rail with wider gap
The City of Tucson officially announced today that they have decided to use a type of track with a wider gap.
On Monday, Tucson Velo reported that the city would use Tee Rail instead of the Block Rail they had planned to use.
That decision was confirmed today in an announcement:
The City of Tucson will pursue the purchase of T-rail for the streetcar tracks because it is readily available and can be installed at reduced labor costs compared to block rail, which was previously considered.
- The use of T-rail is expected to provide an additional estimated $3.5 million in cost savings.
- Specific safety measures have been researched regarding bicycle traffic near streetcar tracks. Unique pavement markings, safe-crossing directional markings and signage treatments have been integrated into the project design. Further methods, including materials to reduce the gap between rail and concrete, are being researched.
The announcement mentions they will continue investigating a way to narrow the gap, which was recommended by a streetcar rail expert only after his original recommendation of Block Rail was rejected.
Tee Rail is being used in the Fourth Avenue underpass.
Ian Johnson, the chair of the downtown subcommittee of the Tucson-Pima County Bicycle Advisory Committee, is concerned about the decision and wonders if the $3.5 million in savings will be offset by the potential liability given that the streetcar team acknowledged block rail would be safer.
In addition, Johnson said he hopes the BAC as a whole will make some reccomendations to give cyclists more room when riding with the streetcar since the track is bigger.
“Currently the plan prioritizes car parking over bicyclists’ safety on one of the most heavily used bicycle corridors in the city,” he said. “I would hope we’re able to come to some some kind of solution.”
One possible solution, Johnson suggested, would be to remove half the parking along the corridor to reconfigure the road.
Download the announcement here.