Tuesday, August 12, 2014

First Look: Sun Metro Streetcar Facility

Maintenance & Storage Building to Sit at Downtown Transfer Center Site

Streetcars that are part of the future El Paso mass transit line will have a home at the Downtown Transfer Center property, according to a recently revealed rendering and floorplan. The maintenance and storage facility will be located in the southeastern corner of the site, which sits on Santa Fe Street between 3rd Avenue and 4th Avenue.
Rendering of what the streetcar maintenance and storage facility may look like once completed on Santa Fe Street in Downtown El Paso. (CRRMA)

Plans show a proposed 19,122 square foot building that will have some office space but which will mainly be used to store and maintain El Paso’s streetcars. Two pits will be located underneath a pair of tracks in the middle of the structure, allowing maintenance workers to view and access the underside of each trolley.

The streetcar maintenance and storage facility will be located at the same site as the Sun Metro Downtown Transfer Center. 

The streetcars will exit the south side of the facility and merge onto northbound tracks on Santa Fe Street. Another set of tracks will branch off the main tracks and travel around the bus facility back to the maintenance building.

Cross section showing embedded tracks
on a street travel lane with power lines
 above. (CRRMA)
The track itself will be embedded within a travel lane along city streets and will be shared with other vehicles. The route will connect Downtown to the UTEP area, with streetcars traveling northward on Stanton Street and southward on Oregon Street. An inner loop will take riders around Downtown and through the Golden Horseshoe shopping district.

Trolleys will be powered by overhead lines, and plans show proposed overhead power poles that will be connected to the electric grid. The poles may also contain street lighting and informational displays.

Other details highlighted in the plans include the proposed streetcar alignment while crossing main bridge structures at Interstate 10 and at the depressed railroad tracks, and possible street-grade changes at severe hills along Oregon and Stanton Streets.

The streetcar project is picking up steam after receiving $97 million in funding from the Texas Department of Transportation in June. The project had stalled after the City of El Paso conducted an engineering and environmental study in 2012, anticipating State funds.
The streetcar route will have 27 stops along 5.6 miles of track, stretching from Downtown El Paso to the UTEP area. (CRRMA)

Now, the City is entering into agreements with the Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority (CRRMA) and URS Corporation to finalize the design and commence construction.

Once completed, the route will include 27 stops along 5.6 miles of track. There is no official timeline for the project, but one should be finalized within the coming months once a general contractor is selected.

The CRRMA will consider multiple agenda items regarding the project at its August 13, 2014 meeting.