When community leaders began planning a memorial honoring victims of a Jan. 8, 2011 mass shooting in Tucson, they opted against building at the northside Safeway shopping center where U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 17 other people were shot, including six who lost their lives.

Instead, they chose a site within a Downtown plaza that sits at the heart of our local government – not realizing it was above a critical underground electric line.

TEP was proud to play a part in making the memorial possible by rerouting that line.

“There were a number of obstacles that we had to overcome, but we were committed to finding a solution,” recalled Martin Rodriguez, a Journeyman Designer who helped with the planning for the site adjacent to the historic Pima County Courthouse. “Something tragic happened that day and this memorial will remind us never to forget. Our team came together to make this work because we knew how important this would be to our entire area.”

It has been a long process.

The memorial includes reflecting pools that would have sat directly over the power line, which delivers power to many Downtown buildings. To make sure that any future maintenance or repairs to the line would not disrupt the memorial, the only viable option was to move the line out of a TEP-owned easement into the public right-of-way.

In an area as complex as Downtown, that’s a tall order. The site is bookended by an underground parking garage and the landmark courthouse. It’s also an area rich in cultural and historic resources and other underground utility infrastructure.

In addition to designing a new cost-effective route that left sensitive areas intact, TEP absorbed certain  relocation costs as an in-kind donation to the memorial project. Our team also had to manage impacts in an area that serves as a hub for business, law and government. Line crews worked weekend hours to minimize the disruption that would be caused by planned outages.

Carlet Castro, Manager of Transmission & Distribution, credited strong partnerships with the City of Tucson and Pima County in delivering results. “The relationships we’ve developed over years of collaboration on other public improvement projects allowed us to work together and find a solution to something that really wasn’t easy to do.”

Larry Robinson, the Director of TEP’s land team, said he was proud of the effort across TEP departments to come to a resolution. “The memorial is an incredible facility to have downtown. I have a deep appreciation for what it will mean to this community as we reflect on those events and the way we came together, more unified and more resolved.”

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