by Jim Nintzel
Congressman Raul Grijalva just spilled the beans: Tucson is getting a staggering $63 million in federal stimulus money for the rail project that will connect downtown with the UA.
Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva today said the newly announced $63 million grant from the Department of Transportation for Tucson’s planned light rail system will “help Tucson turn a major corner in its efforts to rejuvenate the economy, build a cleaner infrastructure, attract more tourism and provide public transportation along some of the busiest corridors in the city.”
The new funds, granted through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will be combined with $87.7 million from the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) and a $4 million federal earmark championed by Rep. Grijalva to fund the rail project, one of only a handful nationwide.
“This is a big day for Tucson and a big day for Arizona,” Grijalva said. “There are few systems like this in the country, and Tucsonans are once again proud to be ahead of the curve.”
The first planned route would run from University
Medical Center through the downtown area to the planned Rio Nuevo site just west of I-10. The RTA has found that approximately 10 percent of Tucsonans "live, work or attend school within walking distance of the location of the streetcar,” making it economically beneficial and environmentally friendly for as much of the population as funding can support.
“This is an excellent way to leverage federal dollars,” Grijalva said of the grant. “The city will be repaid several times over through increased transportation efficiency, expanded commercial access, pollution reduction and progress on Rio Nuevo. This is exactly the kind of project that shows why the Recovery Act was a vital step in rebuilding the economy.”
Rep. Grijalva, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and Mayor Bob Walkup will join Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood tomorrow at a ceremony announcing the funds at Tucson’s historic downtown train depot.