On April 11, the South Central Light Rail Extension/Downtown Hub reached its next funding milestone with the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) approval to enter into Engineering. Their approval moves the project forward in the capital grants program, which is anticipated to provide a significant share of the project’s overall funding. It also reaffirms FTA’s commitment to the project and their positive rating in such areas as cost effectiveness, technical capability, financial readiness and effective land use planning.
“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 U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema.
Entry into Engineering allows for the continuation of engineering and pre-construction activities, such as procurement of long-lead special trackwork for the project. Continued momentum allows Valley Metro and the city of Phoenix to maintain commitments to Phoenix voters by advancing the South Central project and completing significant portions of underground and roadway work in downtown ahead of Super Bowl 2023.
“Expanding light rail to South Central Phoenix will develop our transportation system, support local businesses and create jobs, said Arizona Congressman Ruben Gallego. “I am encouraged that Valley Metro is one step closer to constructing this critical project that will transform our city and promote the health and well-being of Phoenix residents.”
Valley Metro is seeking federal funding from FTA’s Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program for the South Central Extension/Downtown Hub, which will provide a seamless connection between South Central Phoenix and the downtown core, serve a high-demand corridor and provide convenient transfers across the regional rail system as part of the Downtown Hub.
“It is great to see the South Central Light Rail Extension progressing – the FTA reaffirming their support for the project is a step in the right direction of letting the people of South Phoenix know that this project will continue and they will get their fair share after years of waiting,” said Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego. “During my time representing the area and chairing the Proposition 104 campaign I heard firsthand the need for more transportation options for our residents. This light rail expansion will not only be a driver of economic activity, it will also provide an opportunity to share the unique culture of the South Central Corridor with other parts of our city and region.”
A full funding grant agreement is expected in 2020. Pre-construction work, including street improvements to relieve congestion along 7th Street and 7th Avenue, is planned to begin in summer 2019. Relocation of underground utilities will begin in downtown Phoenix in fall 2019. Construction is scheduled for portions of the line in spring 2020.
“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.
About the South Central Light Rail Extension/Downtown Hub
With the voter-approved Transportation 2050 citywide transportation plan, the timeline for the South Central Light Rail Extension is advanced by 11 years. The extension will connect to the light rail system in downtown Phoenix and travel south to Baseline Road. With nine new stations and art elements, the 5.5-mile expansion links South Phoenix to other areas of the Valley. The project includes a transit hub in downtown Phoenix, which supports improved access to education, entertainment and employment centers around the Valley. Valley Metro is collaborating with 18 artists to design art installations throughout the extension. Construction begins in 2019.
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 2018, total ridership for the system was 67 million passengers. Six high capacity transit extensions are under construction that will create a 50-mile system by 2030. 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. In October 2017, the Boards approved a “Respect the Ride” Code of Conduct, focusing on creating a safe and positive rider experience, while also discouraging disruptive, intrusive, unsafe or inappropriate behaviors in a public setting. Get the latest news by following us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter or visiting valleymetro.org.
About Transportation 2050: In Aug. 2015, Phoenix voters approved Transportation 2050 (T2050), a 35-year citywide transportation plan. T2050 is overseen by the Citizens Transportation Commission and includes improved frequency on local bus service, new light rail service and stations and major street improvement projects. Funding for T2050 comes from a 7/10ths of a cent city sales tax that started Jan. 1, 2016. Over the life of the plan, the funds are estimated to generate about $16.7 billion, or more than half of the plan’s overall cost. There will be an additional $14.8 billion in federal and county funds, passenger fares and other sources. For more information, visit the city of Phoenix T2050 page or follow us on Twitter.