Valley Metro’s Light Rail Plans Go Beyond State Capitol To West Phoenix

By Christina Estes
Published: Tuesday, May 26, 2020 - 1:06pm

The pandemic doesn’t appear to be slowing down Valley Metro’s plans to grow light rail. An online public meeting begins Wednesday and runs through June to share information about the Capitol - I-10 West extension

The 10-mile stretch would connect downtown Phoenix to the park-and-ride at 79th Avenue just off Interstate 10. Using input from residents and the city, Valley Metro will evaluate a Phase I route along Washington Street from downtown west to the state Capitol. It’s expected to be completed by 2024. 

The current design shows the Phase II route moving from 19th Avenue and Van Buren Street, along I-17, before connecting with I-10 and ending at 79th Avenue. Before COVID-19, Phase II was expected to be completed by 2030. 

While the federal government funds a significant portion of light rail costs, the amount has decreased. For example, Valley Metro said in 2017 Phoenix expected the federal government to cover about 58% of the total cost of the South Central rail extension but that figure dropped to 47% last year.

Funding also comes from a 35-year sales tax approved by Phoenix voters in 2015. Phoenix uses the tax for a plan it calls "Transportation 2050," a mix of investment for bus service, light rail and street improvements. 

Online public meeting information will be provided in English and Spanish from May 27 through June 30. As people view the material there will be prompts so they can provide input. For people who want to provide input verbally, Valley Metro will host two call-in meetings on June 16 from 6 to 7 p.m. and June 20 from 10 to 11 a.m. During those times, callers can ask questions and provide input. Call-in information will be posted 

Recommendations are expected to be presented to the City Council this summer.