Tucson Modern Streetcar Program Management

Tucson Sun Link Streetcar at sunset

Tucson Modern Streetcar Program Management

More than 85,000 people live and work within walking distance of Tucson’s Modern Streetcar alignment, along with 50,000 students, faculty and staff at the University of Arizona. Even with three bus routes providing service every 30 minutes, there seemed to be a greater need for transit service in the corridor.

In an effort to increase transit options, the city of Tucson embarked upon the Tucson Modern Streetcar project, now known as Sun Link. The 3.9-mile alignment improves connectivity between the university and downtown, with 23 stops and a frequency of operation of 10 minutes during the day and 20 minutes during the evening.

The $196 million Sun Link project is the single largest construction project the city of Tucson has undertaken. The project was funded by the Regional Transportation Authority, USDOT through a TIGER Grant, the Federal Transit Administration New Starts Exempt program and the city of Tucson.

To deliver the project efficiently and within schedule and budget, the city of Tucson selected us as program manager. We’ve led the project’s development from its inception in 2004 and have been the lead consultant in virtually all aspects of the project. Our services included program management, design oversight, vehicle procurement and oversight, public involvement, planning, environmental, economics, construction management and system start up.

Tackling the challenging location for a maintenance and storage facility was required to reduce non-revenue car movements as well as service and store the additional vehicles. 

We provided site circulation, functional layout and equipment-related design services to customize a solution that maximized the small, irregularly shaped site. It provides all services needed for the streetcars, functional spaces for administrative staff and streetcar operators, and meets the sustainability goals of the entire system.

As part of the $2.1 billion, 20-year Regional Transportation Authority plan, the project focuses on addressing the following challenges and expanding on these opportunities:

  • Create direct connectivity between major employment centers and regional attractions
  • Serve low-income and transit-dependent populations
  • Support responsible population growth in the region
  • Provide simple, high-frequency service that serves a range of markets and populations

The streetcar project has made a significant economic impact on the community while also helping to improve the environment, including the creation of 500 construction jobs; more than 1,500 new housing units; more than 50 new restaurants, bars and cafes; and more than $800 million invested from the private sector along the route to date. 

After 10 years of conceptualizing, planning and implementing, the streetcar officially opened on July 25, 2014. With 1,600 attendees, the grand opening event was a huge success. There were 60,000 riders during the Free Ride Weekend and 350 Sun Link volunteers.

Tucson Sun Link Streetcar at sunset


President's Award (2015)
Environmental Excellence Awards
Arizona Forward
Public Works Project of the Year Award (2015)
American Public Works Association, Arizona
National Recognition Award (2015)
Engineering Excellence Awards
American Council of Engineering Companies
Grand Project (2015)
Engineering Excellence Awards
American Council of Engineering Companies of Arizona
Project of the Decade (2014)
Common Ground Awards
Metropolitan Pima Alliance