Valley Metro Asks Phoenix City Council To Approve 2-Lane Light Rail Extension

Published: Friday, September 21, 2018 - 2:41pm
Updated: Friday, September 21, 2018 - 2:45pm
Heather van Blokland/KJZZ
Central Avenue in Phoenix, looking south.
Bridget Dowd/KJZZ
Some south Phoenix business owners believe cutting the number of lanes for a light rail extension will reduce traffic to their storefronts and make it more difficult for people to turn into them.

Despite some opposition to extending light rail into south Phoenix, Valley Metro wants to stay the course.

At a special meeting scheduled for Wednesday, the Phoenix City Council will be asked to approve the two-lane design, which will reduce Central Avenue to one lane for vehicles in each direction. 

The council originally approved the two-lane design in 2014. But in the past couple months, some residents and business owners have shown up at council meetings demanding four lanes or no train. As a result, the city hired an outside consultant to lead six community meetings to gather input and explain the design.

The report by Bailey Strategic Innovation Group  said, “ … the input indicates that the community does not feel good about losing lanes on Central Ave but sees the overall value of the 2 lane configuration when compared to the 4 lane configuration. If the question is two lanes vs. four lanes, based on the functional use of the space, the answer seems to be two lanes.”

The report also goes into detail about a recurring theme in the south central Phoenix community — residents feel as if their voices have not been heard. It suggests the city consider convening a Conversation Task Force for residents to share thoughts, opinions and questions about issues related to light rail and other topics.

In the same report to the City Council, Valley Metro CEO Scott Smith asks Phoenix to approve the two-lane configuration in order to meet a November application deadline.

He wrote, “Any change in the design at this stage of the project will delay the application. The delays will significantly increase the risk of the project not receiving federal funding.”

Smith said the design can be changed from the current two-lanes to four-lanes at a cost of around $7 million and would take four or more months.

Valley Metro

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