An ambitious and exciting light rail construction project is set to begin in northwest Phoenix. The Northwest Extension Phase II expands the light rail west on Dunlap Ave. from 19th Ave. to the Metrocenter area.
The construction project includes new stations, a bridge across I-17 and adds 1.6 miles to the existing 28 miles of light rail that currently travels from north Phoenix to Mesa.
In 2016, the Phoenix City Council approved a plan to accelerate construction on future light rail segments. It’s now expected the Northwest Phase II extension will open to riders in 2024 rather than 2026.
There are some exciting features for the Northwest Extension II, including the first elevated station in the light rail system. A new, light-rail only bridge over the I-17 freeway will also be constructed.
For parking, the project includes a four-story park-and-ride that’s accessible to the station.
Nearly $260 million is allocated for the construction project paid for by a variety of funding sources, with the city of Phoenix paying about 53 percent, the federal government 39 percent, and 7 percent from Proposition 400 regional funds.
The 19 North Community Alliance, made up of businesses and other organizations along the corridor, is especially excited about the new extension.
Shannon McBride, the executive director of 19 North, said the Northwest Extension II will add interest to an area that is economically challenged.
The extension is expected to encourage economic development, similar to the Northwest Extension Phase I. Joshua Matthews, Senior Transit Planner at Valley Metro, said there has been $245 million worth of projects both built and under construction along the Northwest Extension Phase I. Matthews adds that another $247 million worth are either planned or proposed for the area along 19 North. That totals 47 projects, according to Matthews.
In the future, McBride says Dunlap Ave. will be improved, and businesses will be supported by the nearly $500 million in economic development money already invested along 19th Ave.