by Lyle Plocher
Thanks to the Phoenix City Council and Transportation 2050, a voter approved, 35 year multi-modal plan, South Phoenix is slated to get a 6 mile Light Rail extension through their community by 2023 instead of 2034. Connecting with the existing light rail system through a new Downtown Phoenix Hub, the new extension will run right up South Central Avenue all the way to Baseline.
Due to the success of the existing 26 mile Light Rail system, South Phoenix residents don’t have to worry about being part of a “grand experiment”, but instead can have confidence that Light Rail coming to their community will mean jobs, economic prosperity and greater access to Downtown Phoenix and all areas served by the existing system.
According to a December 2018 AZCentral article, In a little more than 10 years, the existing 26 mile system has seen 35,000 new jobs added and $11 Billion in public and private investment. Additionally, more than 25,000 new residential units have been built along the light rail line. More than $400 Million in new Projects have been built or are planned in Downtown Mesa. Light Rail has also helped boost our tourism Industry, helping bring a Super Bowl and a Final Four to Phoenix. Ridership on that Super Bowl weekend was 390,000.
In spite of all these great statistics and experience to learn from, bringing Light Rail to the residents of South Phoenix has been a very bumpy road, filled with challenges not previously faced by the earlier lines and extensions. Activists, led by a group of small business owners on
Central Ave started a “protest campaign” last year, that was successful in getting the Phoenix City Council to require Valley Metro to reconsider the original design for the extension. Valley Metro was given a few months to make several public presentations explaining to South Phoenix residents and business owners why the original 2 lane configuration was superior to a 4 lane solution, which was demanded by the Activists. At the conclusion of the newly required public meetings, the Phoenix City Council voted to move forward with the 2 lane configuration. This same group of activists has now been successful in submitting enough signatures to bring
the issue of Light Rail in South Phoenix and in fact all future Light Rail throughout Phoenix back to Phoenix voters. A special Election/Ballot Measure will take place on August 27th of this year.
Hopefully, enough Phoenix area Voters will be aware of this Ballot Initiative and turn out to reaffirm their previous strong support of Light Rail. South Phoenix deserves the same kind of opportunity and economic benefits that other areas of Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa are enjoying.
AZ Central Article with stats after 10 years
Valley Metro info about South Central Extension and Downtown Hub
Valley Metro 2 Lane vs 4 Lane configuration
Lyle Plocher is a Phoenix area Real Estate Broker and collaborates with Bryan Watkins of LRA Real Estate Group on real estate near the Phoenix Light Rail Corridor