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On Saturday, Valley Metro's 3.1-mile light-rail extension to Mesa, Ariz., began service. The project, which includes four new stations and a 500-space park-and-ride facility, was completed on budget and seven months ahead of schedule, agency officials said in a press release. "Light rail is rejuvenating downtown Mesa, offering residents and visitors across the Valley an opportunity to travel to new destinations and discover Mesa," said Mesa Mayor John Giles.Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton noted that there has been an $8.2 billion investment along Valley Metro's existing light-rail lines."With Mesa’s new extension and the opening of the Northwest extension next March, more residents have greater access to jobs, education, medical appointments, shopping and entertainment," Stanton said.In summer 2012, Valley Metro and its contractor Valley Transit Constructors began building the Central Mesa light-rail extension. More than 700 jobs were created each year during the project's peak construction, Valley Metro officials said.The agency received a $75 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration to build the extension. Additional funding included $71 million in countywide transportation tax revenue and $53 million in federal air quality funds.Valley Metro Rail plans to continue expanding in the greater Phoenix area with two additional miles in the East Valley, agency officials said. That line is slated to open in 2018.
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