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Feds give green light to next phase in Tempe Streetcar project

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PHOENIX — A Phoenix-area company received approval from the federal government to enter a new phase of construction on a streetcar project, it was announced Tuesday.

Valley Metro said in a press release that it was given the go-ahead from the Federal Transit Administration to begin the first phase of “significant construction” on the Tempe Streetcar.

The approval will allow the company to start building the system’s rail track, power systems and street improvements this fall.

“This milestone would not have been possible without the support of our federal delegation and officials at FTA, for which we are grateful,” Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell said in a press release.

“With this approval, we can now move forward to keep this project on budget and on schedule,” he added.

“Many, including advocates in the local business community, have been working tirelessly to see this project come to fruition for the betterment of our community’s quality of life and economic sustainability.”

Valley Metro CEO Scott Smith said in a statement that the company looks forward to working with the government to receive the final grant agreement in the next few months.

Work on preliminary construction and underground utility work for the 3-mile, 14-station streetcar system is already underway, but construction will shift into “high gear” this fall.

Valley Metro was aiming to enter into a funding agreement for the streetcar project by early 2019. It is scheduled to open in 2021.

The streetcar, according to Valley Metro, will run partially along Apache Boulevard, Mill Avenue and Rio Salado Parkway. It will also have two connections to the Valley Metro light rail.

It will “serve one of the highest transit ridership centers in the region, according to the Valley Metro website, “connect[ing] riders to neighborhoods, major business centers, and regional events and destinations.”

According to the company, it will also serve as the Valley’s first modern streetcar line.

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