Progress isn’t slowing down for Valley Metro Rail.
A big reason for that comes from the continued support of the federal government and its belief in bringing more rail accessibility to the Phoenix area.
In early January it was announced that Valley Metro would be receiving a Capital Investment Grant for nearly $530 million towards the South-Central Extension/Downtown Hub project.. That project will include an additional 5.5 miles of light rail track that connects downtown Phoenix to the South Mountain Village. The construction of a downtown hub will also be included in the project.
So how do transit agencies go about acquiring Capital Investment Grants?
According to the Federal Transit Administration’s website, agencies seeking CIG funding for projects must complete a series of steps over several years to be eligible. Valley Metro began its pursuit of the grant for the south Phoenix extension project nearly nine years ago. This project fell into FTA’s new starts category.
The first of those necessary steps is project development. Ultimately, it comes down to what you want to get done and the plan to get that project done. The planning process involves working with the community through public meetings to allow community members to have input on the proposed idea.
Environmental studies are another important process when evaluating the location of a potential project. This was a key step for the south-central Phoenix expansion because the location was through an archeological zone as the Hohokam culture was centered near the Salt River and Central Avenue. Planning must be done in the case of artifacts being discovered during the construction process.
The engineering process is next. That’s when, according to FTA’s website, a project gains commitment of all non-new starts funding and when sufficient engineering and design are completed. This process was completed between 2014 to 2020 for the south-central Phoenix expansion. The final cost, design and construction plans were presented to FTA around the fall of 2020.
After many years and many steps, the grant was officially received in January.
“This represents the culmination of an arduous multi-year process,” Valley Metro CEO Scott Smith said. “But it also marks the beginning of a new era. One of opportunity, hundreds of millions of dollars of new investment and upgraded infrastructure, including new streets. It will also create a new connection with south Phoenix and its residents.”
Check out Valley Metro’s YouTube page for more on the exciting day.
The CIG program is also very competitive among major cities in the United States. Phoenix was in competition for the funds with cities like Los Angeles, Seattle, and Minneapolis, further highlighting the faith that the FTA has in both Arizona and Valley Metro.