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Sat, Mar 19, 2016

Northwest Light Rail Extension Opens

PHOENIX, AZ – The Northwest Extension opened today at 10 a.m. to more than 2,100 riders who rode the new service on 19th Avenue between Bethany Home and Dunlap avenues in north Phoenix.

19th Ave Community Opening Day Video & Photos

Work on the $327 million project began in January 2013 after incoming leaders dedicated city of Phoenix and Proposition 400 funds to prevent additional delays to the project that would have resulted in the line opening in 2023.

“In order to keep this special day from being delayed by another seven years, it took political courage and a major local investment,” said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. “We couldn’t afford to wait because we know that this extension will connect more Phoenix residents to jobs, education and opportunity while attracting billions of dollars of economic investment.”

Mayor Stanton also welcomed special guest U.S. Congressman Ruben Gallego to the event. Cong. Gallego offered his congratulations to the 19th Avenue community, city of Phoenix and Valley Metro. The opening of this light rail segment is just the start of many transit improvements coming with voter approval of the Transportation 2050 plan last year.

Below: Just before the first, official train departs 19th Ave/Dunlap, local officials and community members celebrate their new service by holding We are 19th Ave signs. To view all photos, click here.

NWE Opening Group
Top row, first from left, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton; seventh from left, Phoenix Councilmember Daniel Valenzuela; eighth from left, Phoenix Vice Mayor Kate Gallego; far right, Valley Metro Interim CEO Scott Smith.

Attendees at today’s celebration enjoyed a “World’s Fair”-inspired community expo and free, commemorative transit passes, allowing them to explore the full system and connect to new destinations on the inaugural day of service of the Northwest Extension.

The 19th Avenue Community Fair featured performances by Chris Ridge retiree singers, Phoenix Day School for the Deaf and the Steamers Jazz Band, as well as 70 exhibitors, from local neighborhood associations, family-run restaurants and inspired art school students.

The opening celebration and project overall, coming in ahead of schedule and on budget, are reflections of an effective partnership between Valley Metro, city of Phoenix and the construction contractor, Sundt/Stacy and Witbeck Joint Venture.

“Working closely with partners such as the City of Phoenix, we are building a transportation network that enhances our region’s quality of life and increases our ability to compete with other metro areas around the world,” said Valley Metro Interim CEO Scott Smith. “What an exciting day for Phoenix and our region as we expand to connect more of the Valley and continue on our path of building a 66-mile high-capacity light rail system over the next two decades.”

The additional 3.2 miles of service on 19th Avenue is anticipated to serve 5,000 daily riders who will be connecting to numerous central Phoenix sports and entertainment venues, Tempe Mill Avenue District and ASU and the unique arts and culture offerings of downtown Mesa.

“Now that we have this three-mile extension, think of what we can do,” said Jill Hicks, Washington Elementary School District Community Outreach Specialist. “We can introduce our kids at an early age to light rail and what it means to use it. It’s an educational opportunity.”

Public art that reflects the nature and beauty of the local area is an important part of the three new stations, park-and-ride and power substations. The element of art in public transit provides familiarity and intrigue to riders who are arriving at their destinations or just passing through. And in the case of the Northwest Extension, the public art is “as diverse as the community it serves,” commented MB Finnerty, Valley Metro Public Art Administrator. The 2016 Valley Metro Art book shares the seven unique additions to 19th Avenue and the public art across the light rail line.

More than 250 businesses took part in one or more business assistance programs during construction. The Northwest Extension business assistance program began in 2012, in advance of construction, and was tailored to the 19th Avenue community with resources provided by Valley Metro, city of Phoenix and several partners.

The Northwest Extension is the Valley’s second light rail extension to open within the last seven months. In the future, seven additional high-capacity extensions, including a Phase II extension to Metrocenter Mall, are planned, or are currently under construction, that will create a 66-mile system by 2034.

About Valley Metro: Valley Metro provides eco-friendly public transit options to residents of greater Phoenix and Maricopa County including the planning and operations of a regional bus system and the development and operations of 26 miles of light rail. In Fiscal Year 2015, total ridership for the system was 73 million passengers. Seven high capacity extensions are planned or are under construction that will create a 66-mile system by 2034. Valley Metro also offers transit options including alternative transportation programs for seniors and people with disabilities, commuter vanpools, online carpool matching, bus trip mapping, bicycle safety and telework assistance. Two Boards of Directors set the policy direction for the agency with the intent of advancing the regional public transit system. Get the latest news by following us on Facebook and Twitter or visiting valleymetro.org.

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