El Paso

Will El Paso's Streetcars be able to handle the steep grade on Stanton Street?

Will El Paso's Streetcars be able to handle the steep grade on Stanton Street?

EL PASO, Texas - Work on El Paso's new streetcar system continues with track now being laid in some of the steepest areas of the route.    

The nearly five-mile loop runs up Stanton Street to Glory Road and across to Oregon Street before heading back Downtown. As it ascends Stanton Street, it will climb grades of eight to 10 percent between River and Rim Road.

ABC-7 spoke with a project engineer today about that steep slope. The American Public Transportation Modern Streetcar Guidelines states the desired maximum sustained grade is six percent and the absolute maximum grade is nine percent.

ABC-7 watched Wednesday as work was being done on that steep stretch of tracks running along Stanton between River and Rim.

Streetcar Construction Manager Stephanie Maltby told ABC-7 the grade is about eight percent between River and Schuster. For a 50-foot stretch between Schuster and Rim, it actually climbs to as high as 10 percent, she said, which exceeds the maximum recommended by the American Public Transportation Association.

Maltby said since its just a 50-foot stretch at 10 percent, preceded and followed by grades of around four percent, she believes the steel wheels on steel tracks will still be able to handle the grade for a short stretch.

"We'll be able to carry through that 10 percent section," Maltby said.

She added that the streetcars being used are lighter than usual.
"We're using the old vehicles that used to run here and they've got a modern streetcar engine in them and so they go pretty good," Maltby said. "The old vehicles the bodies are lighter than the modern streetcar vehicle, so they'll have some zip to them."

But what happens if the tracks are wet or there's snow or ice when it comes to that steep section of the streetcar route?

"We've got what's called a sandbox in them just like the old ones in the old days, where the operator if he's having a little bit of traction issues, like if it's wet, raining or icy, you can drop a little sand on the track," she said. "Just like putting cat litter out with your car, and you get a little bit of traction that way and they make their way up."

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