South Central light rail project clears key hurdle

Above: Experts say the light rail has sparked $9 billion in real estate activity within a half-mile radius of the light rail. (Photo by Cronkite News) Business News | 12 Apr |

Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema today announced that Valley Metro’s Phoenix South Central Light Rail Extension/Downtown Hub project cleared a key hurdle in the approval process. Valley Metro is now eligible to use up to $530 million in funding through the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Capital Investment Grant program, obtain non-federal funding commitments, and complete the engineering and design needed to construct the project. 

“Extending light rail will create jobs in Arizona, expand critical transportation options for Phoenix residents, and encourage economic growth. We will continue working to support light rail expansion and increase infrastructure investment in our state,” said Sinema. 

“This a great milestone for the South Central/Downtown project. We enjoy a strong working relationship and appreciate the efforts of FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams and her staff,” said Scott Smith, Valley Metro CEO. 

Sinema has long championed Valley Metro’s light rail efforts in Arizona. While in the U.S. House, she helped secure light rail extension in Mesa, AZ and wrote to the FTA in support of Phoenix South Central’s light rail extension project. 

With today’s announcement advancing the project to the Engineering phase, Valley Metro will be able to extend its light rail system from downtown Phoenix to the South Mountain Village Core via Central Avenue and 1st Avenue. The project will provide a seamless connection between the South Mountain Village Core and Downtown Phoenix. Currently, roughly 38 percent of the population in this area lives below the poverty level and 12 percent of the households in this community do not own any cars. The project will connect the community to Arizona State University (downtown and main campuses), downtown Phoenix, and the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

The project includes track improvements along McKinley Street, 5th Street and 3rd Avenue in downtown Phoenix, expansion of the existing Operations and Maintenance Center, purchase of 17 light rail vehicles, and construction of two park and ride lots. The service is planned to operate every 12 minutes for most of the weekday, every 20 minutes during late night and early morning hours, and every 15 to 20 minutes on the weekends.

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