ARIZONA NEWS

South Phoenix light rail extension gets federal approval, access to funds

Apr 12, 2019, 3:00 PM | Updated: Apr 15, 2019, 8:58 am

(Photo/Downtown Phoenix Inc.)...

(Photo/Downtown Phoenix Inc.)

(Photo/Downtown Phoenix Inc.)

PHOENIX – The south Phoenix light rail extension gained federal approval this week to move into its next phase, pumping millions of dollars into the project.

Valley Metro, the Phoenix area’s public transportation agency, said the Federal Transit Administration gave the green light Thursday for the project to enter the Engineering phase.

According to a press release from U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona), that makes Valley Metro eligible to use up to $530 million from an FTA grant program.

A Valley Metro press release said the Engineering designation will let the agency continue with preconstruction activities and procurement.

“This is a great milestone for the South Central/Downtown project,” Valley Metro CEO said in the release.

The 5-mile extension will run along Central Avenue from the existing downtown light rail tracks to Baseline Road in south Phoenix.

“This light rail expansion will not only be a driver of economic activity, it will also provide an opportunity to share the unique culture of the South Central Corridor with other parts of our city and region,” Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said in the release.

It will be paid for with nearly $600 million in federal funding, $150 million in regional funds and around $250 million through Proposition 104.

Valley Metro expects to complete a full funding grant agreement in 2020.

Preconstruction work is scheduled to begin this summer, and construction on the line is expected to begin in spring 2020. The goal is to begin service in 2023.

Work will include improvements to surrounding streets to alleviate congestion.

“Extending light rail will create jobs in Arizona, expand critical transportation options for Phoenix residents, and encourage economic growth,” Sinema said in the release.

“We will continue working to support light rail expansion and increase infrastructure investment in our state.”

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South Phoenix light rail extension gets federal approval, access to funds