The Phoenix light rail is set to expand in South Central Phoenix – the extension will connect to the light rail in downtown Phoenix and run south of Baseline Road. City of Phoenix officials believe the expansion will create jobs, benefit commuters, and preserve the environment.
Construction is expected to commence in late 2019 or early 2020 and will conclude in 2023. It will provide commuters, including students and out-of-state visitors, greater access to various parts of the Valley. Valley Metro representative Corinne Holliday explains, “The light rail connects thousands of people to education, entertainment, and employment by providing an affordable and convenient transportation alternative.”
Construction of the expansion is projected to create as many as 700 jobs, Holliday says. She notes that area residents will have priority for jobs associated with the project – this includes construction jobs but can also extend to other careers.
Beyond jobs related to the individual project, light rail construction will also create new opportunities for workers in the area. With wider access to the greater metropolitan area, employees and future employees will have more transportation options.
The extension will also help commuters that use private transportation. A Texas Transportation Institute study found that without public transportation, urban areas would have an additional 541 million hours of traffic delay. The continued expansion of the light rail alleviates traffic congestion and creates efficient transportation for all Phoenix commuters.
Development of the light rail will also continue to positively impact the environment. The Federal Transit Administration found that light rail systems produce 62 percent less greenhouse gas emissions per passenger mile than private vehicles. Additionally, an ICF International study found that alternative public transit methods save 947 million gallons of fuel annually.
Holliday states that other developments are planned for the light rail. “In 2019, the Gilbert Road Extension in Mesa and the 50th Street station on Washington in Phoenix will open,” Holliday explains. She also notes that the long-term goal is a 66-mile light rail system by 2034.
The extension of the Phoenix light rail into South Central Phoenix provides new transportation opportunities for commuters and job hunters throughout the Valley.