Tucson's modern streetcar riders will get visual treat

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- When Tucson's modern streetcar starts rolling through town, riders will get to see an array of locally made art, along that 3.9 mile route.

We've had some idea of what the modern streetcar will look like for a while.

"We've been talking about this for years, and now we're going to get it out of the ground," said Councilman Steve Kozachik.

And when the streetcar rises up to roll through Tucson, seventeen works of art, one for each stop will rise up with it.

Thursday Tucsonans got a sneak peak at the artwork that will line the nearly 4 mile long route.

The theme tying it all together: Flow.

At the easternmost stop, a huge poets head will blow letters into LED screens that will stream poetry throughout the line.

"It's a real important ingredient to make it so that people will actually want to use the streetcar," said artist Simon Donovan.

Donovan is one of two artists tasked with coming up with the streetcar's artistic theme.

Twelve other artists expanded on the idea of flow, to add a subtle, different touch to their artwork.

"How eveyrone' s interpreted it is really different, I think it adds a lot of richness," said artist Blessing Hancock.

Another example is light emitting triangles that transmit different colors based on riders touch alone.

"Helps people come and stay and play with it while they're waiting for light rail," said Hancock.

City leaders say that's the key using the art to keep people coming back and hopping on.

"I like what I'm seeing because its not just your bland bus stop.  What you're seeing is an artistic element that needs to be catchy and a gotcha sort of thing to draw people to the experience," said Kozachik.

The art comes at a cost of 1% of the budget for capital improvements and some Tucsonans say it's a small price to pay to bring the community together.

"Its really going to bring the community together in a way we haven't seen in Tucson," said resident Joan Schlimgen.

And you can expect to see construction picking up by the end of the year.

City officials say they expect the modern streetcar to be in Tucson for testing in late 2012.  But you won't be able to hop on for a ride until October 2013.