West Side Light Rail Project gets a green light
Phoenix METRO received the go ahead late July, to extend the light rail route further into the west valley. This is of course great news for west valley residents as well as all Phoenix commuters. The more residents able to use public transit will inevitably mean fewer cars on the road. Yay for our environment and less traffic!
The Maricopa Association of Governments approved the 11-mile extension, which has unbelievably been in the works since 2007. The new route will pick up from downtown Phoenix, from two current stations at Central and 1st avenue as well as the Washington and Jefferson station, and will continue all the way to 79th avenue and the I-10. This new end-of-the-line stop essentially leaves riders a few blocks from the Ashley Home Theater Pavilion. The building of this project will be the first rail line to travel alongside the I-10.
Many opponents of light rail extension projects have argued that adding new rails anywhere in the valley would likely mean that cities would have to invoke eminent domain over residences and businesses. They are also quick to argue that rail integration could cause traffic interruption during construction as well as during daily commutes. Building the new extension either on or alongside existing main transit arteries such as the I-10 certainly truncates the majority of their arguments.
July’s approval also bodes well for further extensions throughout the valley down the road. There has been quite a bit of talk of an extension to reach out toward Glendale and Peoria to ease the commute to the University of Phoenix stadium and the Westgate area. A long shot extension, though vehemently opposed by the City of Scottsdale, may seem more viable if it were to run along the 101 freeway rather than cutting through the city center.
We’ll have to be patient, though. The project will be completed (so they say) far off in the future. METRO is anticipating light rail cars to reach the west side in 2023. Eek. METRO and the City of Phoenix are now beginning work to decide the best locations along the route for stations. This is great news for the City of Phoenix, no doubt!