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Ballot initiative seeks to halt light rail expansion in Phoenix

(Martha Maurer/KTAR News)

PHOENIX — In six weeks, voters in Phoenix will head to the polls to vote on an initiative that seeks to stop the expansion of the light rail.

Proposition 105 would halt current and future light rail expansion projects, including the expansion into south Phoenix, and redirect money to other transportation infrastructure improvements in Phoenix.

A group called Building a Better Phoenix supports the measure. It’s made up of mostly residents and business owners along the planned Phoenix light rail expansion path.

“Ask me about the light rail 15 years ago, I would say it was the greatest thing since sliced bread,” said Larry Cohen, a member of Building a Better Phoenix.

“But it’s not an antiquated system. It’s not a practical system.”

In 2015, voters had approved a measure to spend $550 million for light rail expansion from downtown Phoenix east to the South Mountain Village core.

But this week, new documents that Valley Metro Rail filed with the U.S. Department of Transportation and its Federal Transit Administration estimated costs at about $1.35 billion.

Cohen said he was “shocked” to learn the cost nearly tripled. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if that cost increases even more.

Meanwhile, opponents of Proposition 105 want to see the light rail continue to expand.

“The light rail contributes to significant job growth and economic development, while also providing community-wide health benefits,” Todd Sanders and Jennifer Mellor with the Greater Phoenix Chamber said in a statement.

They added the light rail not only benefits students and the workforce, “but it is essential in keeping the Greater Phoenix Region competitive with other markets.”

The election is set for Aug. 27. Early voting runs from July 31 through Aug. 23 at Phoenix City Hall.

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