Phoenix City Council votes to look at other designs for light-rail expansion

Jun 20, 2018, 7:49 PM | Updated: Jun 22, 2018, 9:10 am

(AP Photo/Matt York)...

(AP Photo/Matt York)

(AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — The City Council voted Wednesday to consider alternative designs for the proposed light-rail expansion in south-central Phoenix.

The council voted 6-2 in favor of Councilman Michael Nowakowski’s motion to look into the feasibility of the extension on Central Avenue with four lanes of traffic rather than two.

Council members Kate Gallego and Jim Waring voted “no.”

In a statement, Councilman Daniel Valenzuela said the expansion of the light rail will serve as a critical tool for “economic development and neighborhood revitalization” in south Phoenix.

The vote came at the end of a contentious meeting, filled with many residents both in favor and in opposition of the move.

John Mendibles wanted to see discussion continue.

“There’s an issue here of four lanes and an issue with two lanes. Four lanes do away with more business. Two lanes, that’s an issue that deals with emergencies,” he told the council.

“It’s going to shut down emergency lanes not only on Central, but on other streets and avenues. This has already been voted on by the public. This is an issue for south Phoenix.”

Valenzuela said in his statement, “I feel confident that staff and Valley Metro will make an honest attempt to listen to residents to try and resolve their concerns while keeping the project on track to meet important deadlines.”

Valenzuela believes the project will not be delayed and the city will not lose federal funds.

Councilwoman Laura Pastor praised the council’s decision in a statement.

“Tonight’s vote to save light rail and preserve the South Central Project was the result of strong and courageous leadership,” the statement read.

“The hardest work is still before us however, and it is more important than ever to work together and ensure that the new community engagement process going forward is fair, equitable, honest, collaborative, and transparent.”

Valley Metro CEO Scott Smith told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday that if Phoenix scrapped the project, the money could not be used elsewhere.

That money includes almost $600 million in federal funding, $150 million in regional funds and almost $250 million through Proposition 104.

“In the precincts that are immediately along the light rail, 75 percent of the people voted yes for light rail,” he said.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Kathy Cline contributed to this report. 

A previous version of this story erroneously reported the light-rail project had been put on “pause”. It also said Councilman Daniel Valenzuela believed the city risked losing millions of dollars per an original statement. An updated statement on Valenzuela’s views has been reflected in the story.

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Phoenix City Council votes to look at other designs for light-rail expansion