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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Phoenix OKs earlier opening dates for three light-rail extensions


The Phoenix City Council yesterday approved a plan to accelerate the opening dates of three light-rail extensions.

Under the plan, the opening date for the South Central light-rail extension would be pushed ahead 11 years to 2023.

The Northwest Phase II and the Capital I-10 West extensions would open in 2023, as well. Those lines were originally slated to open in 2026 and 2030, respectively.

Additionally, the council recommended that the South Central extension be prepared for a federal grant submittal for inclusion in the next president's fiscal-year 2018 budget, city and Valley Metro officials said in a joint press release.

The move marks the city's first step toward implementing the Transportation 2050 (T2050) ballot initiative, which voters approved in August 2015, they said.

The city also plans to initiate development of an early-action light-rail business assistance program.

The changes will be sent to the Valley Metro boards and the Maricopa Association of Governments Regional Council for additional discussion and final adoption into the plan this summer.

Funding for T2050 comes from a 0.7 percent city sales tax that went into effect Jan. 1 and will continue until 2050. Over the life of the plan, revenue from that tax is estimated to generate $16.7 billion for a slew of transportation improvements in the city, including six light-rail extensions. That sum will cover more than half of the funding needed for the projects included in T2050, officials said.

Passenger fares, federal and county funding, and other sources will provide an additional $14.8 billion for T2050 projects.

[Editor's note: This story has been changed since its initial posting.]

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 1/27/2016