Phoenix eyes south Phoenix light rail extension with federal grant









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Sep 15, 2014, 4:11pm MST UPDATED: Sep 16, 2014, 7:11am MST

Eric Jay Toll Reporter-Phoenix Business Journal

A grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation is making Phoenix MayorGreg Stanton‘s commitment to expand light rail across the city a little closer to reality.

The $1.6 million grant will provide the city of Phoenix resources to evaluate the planning, environmental and conceptual engineering for a five-mile extension of Metro light rail down Central Avenue from Jefferson Street to Baseline Road.

“Getting light rail to South Mountain is one of my personal priorities,” Stanton said. “I want to bring the same flexible transit options to the area as others in the city experience with Metro.”

The Phoenix City Council authorized the South Central Transit Corridor less than a year ago. The action last December made the route the first light rail extension moving beyond the original Proposition 400 proposal.

“Public transportation in Phoenix is good, but we need to move it to better,” said the mayor. “To be a quality city, we need to give our residents choices for getting to work.”

Currently, Phoenix and Valley Metro are assessing routes extending light rail or bus rapid transit into Glendale, and a route from downtown Phoenix westward to Maryvale, possibly along Interstate 10.

Although construction is five to 10 years in the future, with light rail ridership already exceeding 2020 projections, schedules could change. It all depends on available federal funding.

“We need to bring light rail to south Phoenix to encourage economic development in the area,” Stanton said. “Already, we’ve seen more than $5 billion in positive economic impact from development within light rail corridors.”

The federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant support generates a variety of benefits to the surrounding community, where residents rely heavily on transit service. Recent studies of the area indicated 14 percent of residents walk or bike to work, and more than 56 percent come from households with no available automobile.

“Riding transit is not just commuting,” said Stanton. “The regulars get to know each other, and it becomes a social activity during the commutes seeing the same people every day.”

Eric covers economic development, banking and finance, infrastructure, transportation and utilities.





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