Voters To Decide On Light Rail Extension Project’s Future

On Feb. 6, the Phoenix City Council voted to extend the decision to decide the future of the city’s light rail system to voters.

By adopting agenda item No. 35, the city council established a special election that will be held in August. This election will let the voters decide whether or not the city should pay for light rail extensions. This would extend light rail service to South Phoenix.

The extension would cost the city $31 billion dollars, which would be stretched over the next 35 years, according to a plan that passed in 2015.

Opponents of the project are concerned about the effect that the extension could have on traffic and local businesses. There are also concerns about gentrification in the neighborhoods surrounding this new extension. Others believe that the money for this project could be better allocated to complete other infrastructure projects, from road work to an expansion of bus service.

Previously, the construction of the extension was set to begin sometime this year. The construction would impact Central Avenue, reducing the roadway from four lanes to just two lanes.

The reduction of lanes is also a concern. The city council allowed Valley Metro to investigate if the construction could be done while keeping all four lanes open. However, the transit system CEO, Scott Smith, was concerned that looking at keeping all four lanes open would mean that the plan would never be completed.