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Light Rail Supporters: 'It’s Time For South Phoenix To Join The Rest Of The City In Its Prosperity'
Supporters of extending light rail into south Phoenix are trying to rally their troops. They’re urging residents and business owners to pressure the City Council as it prepares for a key vote Wednesday.
Council members are expected to vote on a 5.5-mile extension south of downtown. The council approved the Central Avenue design in 2014 and in 2015 voters approved a transportation tax to help fund the extension.
Several months ago a group of south Phoenix business owners began protesting. Some originally expressed concern that construction and reducing Central Avenue to two lanes for vehicle traffic would hurt their bottom line and began pushing a campaign called “4 Lanes or No Train.” Now some business owners say they don’t want light rail at all. During Tuesday’s news conference, supporters, including resident Danny Ortega, pushed back.
“We have complained about the lack of infrastructure, about the lack of transportation, about the lack of economic opportunity,” he said. “Lack, lack, lack. And now that we have the opportunity we’re saying no to it? Wrong. It’s time for south Phoenix to join the rest of the city in its prosperity.”
Resident Perry Elam said, “I grew up in a community that for so long seemed to be the bastard child of Phoenix. But now we’ve got a chance to change that direction.”
Supporters say light rail will provide transportation options and spur economic development. Former Mayor Greg Stanton and two former council members who are running for Mayor — Kate Gallego and Daniel Valenzuela — also urged their former colleagues to move forward with the extension.
In a report to the council, Valley Metro asked that the two-lane design be approved Wednesday in order to meet a November application deadline to help secure federal funds.