Tucson's mayor will tout streetcar success on day 1 of Democratic Convention

Tucson's mayor will tout streetcar success on day 1 of Democratic Convention

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Tucson's Mayor Jonathan Rothschild has been asked to participate in a panel discussion on infrastructure at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia next week.

"What I'm going to talk about is how we struggled for 40 years," he said. "But with this infrastructure investment in the past five years, we've seen a transformation downtown."

The biggest piece of that infrastructure is the Modern Streetcar which cost nearly $200 million from start to finish.

Part of that investment came from the US Transportation Department in the form of a $63 million grant. By some estimates it has spurred $1.5 billion in investment downtown.

"It allowed conservative bankers to open up their doors," said Shelly Ginn, the streetcar project manager. "They would not have talked to us otherwise."

Rothschild feels the panel is an indication that if there is a President Hillary Clinton administration, it will focus on infrastructure investment.

"That's the message we're trying to deliver," he said. It appears "they are prepared to invest prudently."

He believes that success breeds success and he will impress on the other panel members from Austin, Los Angeles, Nashville, Syracuse and Kansas City that the government is more likely to invest when there is a good chance of success.

He believes the city's success is one reason why the government is more willing to invest in SR 189, which Tucson supports, and even Interstate 11.

"We went through a very rigorous federal process," says Ginn of the streetcar. "We needed to make sure it was going to be a success before they funded it."

But Rothschild is quick to point out, it's not just the streetcar. Tucson's investment in water infrastructure has positioned it well for the looming water shortages from Lake Mead and the Colorado River.

"It's bridges, hospitals, schools, roads," he said. "We need capital investment and it needs to come from the federal government."

The panel convenes Monday, the first day of the convention.

Copyright 2016 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.