Giffords arrives at streetcar celebration - Tucson News Now

Giffords arrives at streetcar celebration

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

A big surprise happened Friday at the dedication of the new operations and maintenance facility for Tucson's streetcar.

Just after the ribbon cutting and tour of the facility started, former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly made an appearance.

Speakers had brought up her name several times, explaining how she was on board with the project from the beginning during her time in office.

Supporters worked to bring the streetcar to Tucson for nearly ten years.

On Friday, Giffords also received credit for being one of the people who helped get $63 million  from the federal government for the streetcar.

Her husband, Mark Kelly, says it's a big day.

"You know, she spent a lot of time in getting the Department of Transportation to approve it and appropriate the money to build this," Kelly said. "It's a big deal for the city."

After the visit, the streetcar was moved back into the storage facility, moving on its own power.

This is a first.

It has been towed everywhere so far.

Next week, the streetcar will be testing out the newly laid track.

The car will be towed on various parts of the nearly 4-mile-long track that runs from west of downtown, through downtown to The University of Arizona and back.    

Eventually, there will be eight street cars in all.

The second one is expected to arrive in early October.

The other six are scheduled to begin arriving every three to six weeks after that.

There will be more testing, plus operator training.

Also, a safety campaign will help the rest of us learn how to drive, walk, and bike around the streetcar to share the streets safely with these new vehicles.

Copyright 2013 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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