Officials highlight future plans for light rail

August 30, 2012

The City of Phoenix and Valley Metro celebrated the ongoing expansion of the light rail system Thursday morning by unveiling the markers for a new light rail route. The extension will help serve neighborhoods where the percentage of residents without cars is twice the county average.

Stanton, Banta, Williams, Valenzuela From left: Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, Valley Metro CEO Steve Banta, Phoenix Councilmembers Thelda Williams and Danny Valenzuela. (Photo by Nick Blumberg - KJZZ)

Phoenix Councilmembers Danny Valenzuela and Thelda Williams, Valley Metro CEO Steve Banta, and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton showed off the signs that will mark the first phase of the Northwest Extension route.

“Unfortunately, with the economy, our plans for light rail slowed down just a little bit. Now that things are picking up again, we are right back at it," Stanton said. "This city is committed to providing great public transportation to the people of our city. The light rail that we are so fortunate to have in Phoenix and Tempe and Mesa has been a tremendous success and we are just getting started.”

The first phase of the extension project is fully funded and will bring the train from its current terminus at 19th Avenue and Montebello 3.2 miles north to Dunlap. That will increase access to grocery stores, schools, restaurants, and shopping centers.

Greg Stanton Mayor Stanton arrived -- just a few minutes late -- via light rail. (Photo by Nick Blumberg - KJZZ)

The second phase of the project aims to extend the train farther northwest to the Metrocenter Mall, though that might not happen until 2026. Stanton is hoping for some extra money that could speed up construction.

“The federal government’s going to have to decide how they partner with localities of the future," Stanton said. "We know our region is going to be competitive for federal dollars moving forward. There’s a variety of opportunities there. The best thing we can do is build the best line possible and get as many people on it. The more we can do that, you guarantee the success of the future of light rail.”

Stanton says a strong public transit system is crucial for this area. According to Valley Metro, 14 percent of households along the projected route don’t have a car, compared to seven percent across Maricopa County.

The rail extension up to Dunlap is slated to be done by late 2015 or early 2016.

Updated 8/30/2012 at 2:11 p.m.

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