Phoenix light rail extension approved

July 26, 2012

The Maricopa Association of Governments has approved an estimated one billion dollar plan to extend the light rail farther west into Phoenix -- but they won’t be breaking ground just yet.

Wednesday night, MAG signed off on 11 miles of new track that will run from downtown Phoenix, past the State Capitol complex, and end around 79th Avenue and the westbound I-10. The plan calls for much of the line to run either along the median or on the north side of the 10.

Hillary Foose of Valley Metro said there’s a lot to be done before construction starts. “Our next phase is really to do a lot more analysis and start some preliminary design work to really understand how this process could come to be, consider the neighborhood implications, the design of it, and then we’ll move into thinking more closely about construction," Foose said.

The project now begins an environmental impact assessment. Foose says construction could begin around 2019, and is projected to finish in 2023.

Light rail officials are planning six route extensions overall that will create a 57-mile system by the year 2032. Valley Metro is currently at work on a 3-mile extension into downtown Mesa. They also want to extend the light rail north into Phoenix and Glendale, and install a streetcar in downtown Tempe. The light rail first opened in December 2008.

Updated 7/26/2012 3:00pm