Storm debris shuts down the Modern Streetcar for the first time - Tucson News Now

Storm debris shuts down the Modern Streetcar for the first time

Sandbags put in place to keep debris from streetcar tracks, failed after Tuesday storms. (Source: Tucson News Now) Sandbags put in place to keep debris from streetcar tracks, failed after Tuesday storms. (Source: Tucson News Now)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The powerful monsoon storm which moved through Tucson on Tuesday, forced the shut down of the Modern Streetcar for the first time.

Operations ceased for more than four hours while workers, including management, worked to clear the tracks of debris.

Standing water also threatened to damage the electric motors and propulsion system underneath the cars which power the streetcar. But the top priority, according to Marwan Al-Mukhtar, the head of security and safety, was passenger safety.

"They come first," he said. "Safety of the public is the most important thing for us."

The decision was made because so much debris had built up on the tracks that the cars were having a difficult time staying on the track.

"It's an issue if sand and debris collects in the flangeway," said Al-Mukhtar. "But the bigger issue is rocks."

If rocks and debris build up inside the flangeway, it could cause the wheels to jump off the tracks. This became apparent at Congress west of I-10 where debris was washed off an empty field and onto the streetcar tracks.

Even though Sun Links added sandbags to protect the tracks as it has done in past storms, this one was so severe, the sandbagging did not work.

"There was just too way too much water which grabbed all this debris, stones and rock and washed them into the streets," Al-Mukhtar said. 

It will likely need some engineering. but Al-Mukhtar says he's not sure what at this point but it could be a wall or landscaping. There were also similar issues at 4th Avenue, Second Street, Park and the University. 

"These are lessons learned," he said. 

Copyright 2016 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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