Jan 16, 2012 6:00 PM

Businesses along 4th Avenue prepping for modern streetcar construction

Come Tuesday, Tucson could be one step closer to getting a modern streetcar. That is when the city will review all of the construction bids, so the project could break ground as early as next month. All that work could mean some tough times for businesses along the four-mile route, especially on 4th Avenue. So, for the past three years, the RTA has been prepping business owners there to make sure construction goes smoothly.

There is excitement on 4th Avenue for the modern streetcar but there is also some concern about the construction that comes with it.

"I feel like everybody's kind of gearing up and making sure to let their customers know, we will be open," said Sabine Blaese, who owns Café Passe.

"We endured the construction of the 4th Avenue underpass," said Stephen Paul, a property and business owner on 4th Avenue. "We're just a half-block north of the underpass at this building and that was a tough two years."

Britton Dornquast with the RTA's Main Street Business Assistance program has been working closely with owners along the entire route. Sharing project information, providing customized tips on how to accommodate customers and controlling the rumors.

"There's a perception that every business will suffer through construction and that's actually not true," Dornquast said. "You can have one business on the street and one business right next to it and one might be down 10 percent and one might not be off at all."

The construction will also happen in phases, three months at a time for each three-block section. Steps business owners hope can help ease any growing pains.

"I think most business owners have a pretty can-do attitude about it," said Blaese.

"It may be tough, but we'll get people to come down and people will be excited to see the end result," Paul said.

If all goes according to plan construction will end by mid 2013 and the streetcar will be up and running by October of that year.


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