As the Northwest light-rail expands into Glendale, local business owners try to work out the project’s kinks with city officials.
When talk first started of the expansion, many business owners were a bit skeptical of their success during the process. But after talking with each other and receiving much needed reassurance from the city of Phoenix, businesses can breathe a bit easier.
According to the City of Phoenix, these public transit improvements have allowed Phoenix natives to become more comfortable with public transportation. In the past year, there have been 37.4 million bus passenger boardings along with 7.8 million boardings on the light-rail.
So what does this mean for local businesses?
In preparation for the original 20-mile rail system, the city council approved $2 million to be provided for business assistance for those affected by the construction of the light-rail. According to the city of Phoenix, the program successfully joined existing city programs and resources to provide immediate support for the businesses.
“As with the original project, the construction of Metro Light Rail can be disruptive to the businesses, neighborhoods and community organizations along the line,” Sam Richard, business development director and member of the Encanto village planning committee says, “However, despite those challenges the city along with the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce and Local First Arizona are working to connect business owners to resources during the construction phase.”
The main concern of the businesses is the access customers will be able to have. Ruth Anderson, manager at WineBurger, says that the businesses with only one access point are going to be the businesses that have the most trouble. But once construction is gone there will be a better overall business flow.
To assist the approximate 300 businesses along the Northwest expansion, Council staff is recommending $500,000 to be spent over the next four fiscal years for the project. The City of Phoenix says that a portion of that budget will be held as contingency funds to allow responses to issues during construction.
Although the rail system is in motion now, in June 2009, the Northwest expansion was delayed due to significantly reduced sales tax revenues. During their time off, Metro researched ways to get construction underway sooner and with a $200 million plan, the expansion was approved by city council on June 20, 2012.
Ana Berzan, owner of De La Ana European Delicatessen in Phoenix, says, “In the long run it will probably bring more traffic to the business. For right now, they just started working and they do provide access (to the business), but I’m not sure what is going to happen.”
The new line will add three stations ending at Dunlap Avenue, which is 3.2 miles longer off of the 19th/Montebello Avenue light-rail stop and is expected to open in the beginning of 2016.