The Phoenix City Council voted 6-2 to continue with South Phoenix light rail expansion plans on Wednesday afternoon.
The extension, which will add 5.5 miles to the current Valley Metro light rail track, is scheduled to be completed and in use by 2023.
The city council held a special meeting to vote on whether to keep the plans of reducing central avenue to two lanes or refining the plans to include four lanes of traffic.
Expressing concern over small business shutdowns and gentrification, many speakers were passionate about their feelings toward the light rail expanding into south Phoenix, including Councilman Sal DiCiccio.
Voting with a simple “no,” DiCiccio said at the meeting that the City of Phoenix, which “couldn’t fix a pothole,” would not be able to protect small businesses or improve transportation.
Though the motion passed, the two dissenting votes, DiCiccio and Vice Mayor Jim Waring, were very outspoken in their rejection of the expansion altogether.
However, many on the council expressed their support for the people in attendance, emphasizing the importance of maintaining a conversation with community members.
Councilman Michael Nowakowski took time to thank those in attendance before voting in favor of maintaining the original plan. He said at the meeting that above anything else, there should be a better processes for the community to express their concerns.
“This process needs three things: people, people and people," Nowakowski said. "We need to make sure the people who live in that community are involved."