Tempe seeks buried lines along portions of trolley route, a complicated task

An artist’s concept shows the proposed Tempe Streetcar alongside Valley Metro Light Rail. Tempe is now seeking to bury many of the streetcar overhead lines./Special to the Tribune

By Peter Cheng | East Valley Tribune

Tempe officials are proposing to bury trolley wires at several points along the streetcar line.

The council wants to bury lines on Mill Avenue between University Drive and Rio Salado Parkway, including the two “gateway” intersections. The streetcars would be equipped with batteries to power them along those sections.

Officials’ desire to maintain clear sightlines over some Tempe neighborhoods challenged the project design team into “uncharted territory,” said Valley Metro CEO Scott Smith, adding that the city will have to pay the bill for the modification.

Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell said there’s a reason for the effort in light of plans to add a trolley line: “We spend a lot of time trying to beautify our city. We’ve been trying to take down wires, but now we’re adding wires.”

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