Modern Streetcar Approved for Tucson’s Mission District


Illustrative plan, Mercado Neighborhood, Tucson, Arizona

The Mission District, Moule & Polyzoides’ plan for a new Neighborhood in Tucson, Arizona, is about to become a key destination on the City’s recently funded streetcar line. The streetcar will create internal linkages for the Mission District in addition to connecting to Tucson’s main downtown area. The Mission District project (previously known as the Mercado District) won the Congress of the New Urbanism’s Charter Award in 2006 and is in the midst of phased development as a walkable Neighborhood, including residential, commercial and cultural uses.

Moule & Polyzoides’ plan for the District includes the streetcar as one component of a well-connected, pedestrian- and Transit-Oriented Neighborhood. As currently envisioned, the streetcar will follow a loop that serves both the District’s evolving Avenida del Convento (its main street) and its adjacent mixed-use areas. From the south end of the District, the route will then proceed eastward and connect with Tucson’s downtown and University areas.

The streetcar complements the plan’s many pedestrian-oriented design features and encourages strolling opportunities. Such features include wide sidewalks, generous arcades, street trees for shade, regionally inspired architecture, a mixed-used fabric, a variety of cultural destinations and on-street parking which will increase the supply of free parking stalls while slowing traffic. Buildings fronting the street accommodate commercial uses on the ground floor with residential or office uses above.

The move to build the streetcar marks a continued rise in the area’s fortunes and stands in stark contrast to the site’s recent history as a forgotten and vacant tract of land along the freeway. Following the completion of early phases of the project, the streetcar will be a welcome addition to the Mission District, ensuring appeal for many years to come and building on the successes of a vital and evolutionary plan.

The streetcar is funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Arizona’s Regional Transportation Authority and other sources.