Tucson's modern street car facing new obstacles

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As the Tucson city council starts the process of grabbing some land it needs along the planned route of the new modern streetcar, other issues have come up, funding.

After the the Federal Transportation Administration denied a $19 million grant to fund the modern streetcar, the City of Tucson is now concerned about how to fund the project.

"The strategies we've pursued is to look for any and all grant opportunities," said City Transportation Director Jim Glock.

And now the city better keep looking.

"While we were denied a grant, it was a grant that would have taken the pressure off the normal appropriations process," added Glock.

But the pressure is definitely still on. The streetcar project is now $26 million in the red, but city officials are not giving up.  "We're going to try another grant opportunity, Tiger 2," said Glock.

While officials continue to search for funds, the city council will agree to allow the city to use eminent domain to acquire property along the new street car route.

It includes areas across the University of Arizona, sixty-one square feet at Trinity Presbyterian Church and nearly 3,000 square feet around La Placita Village on Broadway and Church.

The project is close to the 60% design phase and Glock says new cost estimates are coming in. "Our cost estimates are actually coming down," said Glock.

Down from $26 million to a possible $19 million funding gap.  "It's our hope that between the remaining authorization and the lower cost we're actually out of the woods in respect to the streetcar budget," said Glock.

Next comes the hard part, actually building it.