Valley Metro to add light rail extension to northwest Phoenix

The Light Rail Stops on the corner of Central Avenue and Roosevelt Street, in the heart of the arts district.  The new extension will be over 250 Million dollars, according to Valley Metro. (Photo by Dominic Valente)

The light rail stops on the corner of Central Avenue and Roosevelt Street, in the heart of the arts district. The new extension will be more than $250 million, according to Valley Metro. (Photo by Dominic Valente)

A two-phase light rail expansion that would extend service a little more than three miles from 19th Avenue and Montebello Road up to Dunlap Road in northwest Phoenix is now under way.

The extension will add three light rail stations at Glendale, Northern and Dunlap Avenues, including one Park and Ride and connections to bus services, according to a Valley Metro press release.

Valley Metro spokeswoman Susan Tierneysaid the extension was part of Valley Metro’s Regional Transportation Plan that was approved by Valley area voters.

“The plan was laid out by determining ridership demand and neighborhood density when choosing service areas,” she said.

The northwest light rail construction project costs $300 million, including expenses for utility relocation, stations, electrical substations and tracks.

Funding for the project will come from Proposition 400, which receives funds from the city of Phoenix sales tax, according to the press release.

“We anticipate 20,000 commuters served by the extension and 5,000 riders per day,” Tierney said.

According to the Regional Transportation Plan, the city expects to raise $7.7 billion for public transportation improvements through 2026.

Phase two of the project will extend the light rail from Dunlap Avenue up to the Interstate 17, which is expected to open in 2026, according to the press release.

Tierney said Valley Metro has been working one-on-one with business owners along the proposed light rail extension to let them know about construction.

“We can provide assistance to help the neighborhoods and community know the businesses are still open and accessible,” Tierney said.

Valley Metro offers a Business Assistance Program for local businesses off of the rail line with a 24-hour construction outreach telephone line, a community advisory board and the Metro Max rewards program, which provides discounts to Metro riders at those businesses.

Business junior Michael Tanaka doesn’t have a car and uses the light rail to get around the city and to class.

“The more that they can add to the transportation system, the better,” he said. “It would create more job opportunities by allowing people to travel to parts of the city that they wouldn’t be able to without a car.”

Valley Metro rider Marcus Robertson said the extension would be a positive step for city commuting. because it would cut down on freeway traffic.

“It would definitely be more convenient for the residents that live up that way to get downtown,” Robertson said.

The Mesa extension, which broke ground on June 3, is “advancing quite well,” Tierney said.

Construction activities on the Mesa extension are on the rise and are ramped up with six construction crews working five to seven days a week, Tierney said.

More information on each project can be found at: http://www.valleymetro.org/metro_projects_planning

 

Reach the reporter at amy.edelen@asu.edu