The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) on Friday announced its intent to award $528,830,295 for the construction of the 5.5-mile South Central Extension/Downtown Hub project, connecting South Phoenix to the regional rail system.
These funds constitute nearly 40 percent of the total project cost and follow two prior allocations that have contributed to the full grant amount. This announcement signifies the final step before the Full Funding Grant Agreement is signed, which is anticipated in January 2021.
“It is thrilling to see this grant agreement, which comes at a time when investment could not be more important,” said Phoenix Mayor and Valley Metro Rail Board Vice Chair Kate Gallego. “We have been working towards this day for years and it is a personal passion for me because of the economic development, business, education and community connections that light rail can deliver.”
In addition to 5.5 miles of new track, the project also includes the construction of a Downtown Hub which will create a two-line light rail system and provide support for major events in the region, such as Super Bowl LVII in 2023. It also represents reinvestment in the entire corridor and community with upgraded utilities, sidewalks, landscaping, local art and mobility being enhanced as part of the project.
“We are grateful for the federal government’s continued support of public transportation in Maricopa County,” said Valley Metro CEO Scott Smith. “We are proud of our relationship with the U.S. Department of Transportation and FTA and look forward to delivering a project that will honor the life and work of the Honorable Ed Pastor.”
Arizona Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly also praised the grant, recognizing the potential for new jobs and economic opportunities.
“Today’s funding announcement of the South Central Light Rail Extension will create jobs, expand transportation options and grow Arizona’s economy,” said Senator Sinema.
“This is a significant investment in South Phoenix and the entire Valley. By connecting South Phoenix with the rest of the Valley Metro light rail, this project will give folks a reliable transportation option and increase economic opportunity.” said Senator Kelly.
Valley Metro exists to connect communities and enhance lives each day by providing eco-friendly public transit options in metro Phoenix. In Fiscal Year 2020, total ridership for the regional bus and 28-mile light rail system was 53 million passengers. Five high capacity transit extensions are in planning or under construction that will create a 50-mile system by 2030. Valley Metro also offers alternative transportation programs including paratransit services for seniors and people with disabilities, commuter vanpools, online carpool matching, bus trip mapping, bicycle safety and telework assistance. Two Boards of Directors from 18 local cities and towns and the county set the policy direction for the agency with the intent of advancing the regional public transit system in Maricopa County.
With the voter-approved Transportation 2050 citywide transportation plan, the timeline for the South Central Light Rail Extension/Downtown Hub is advanced by 11 years. The extension will connect to the light rail system in downtown Phoenix and travel south to Baseline Road. With eight new stations and art elements, the 5.5-mile expansion links South Phoenix to other areas of the Valley. The project includes a transit hub in downtown Phoenix, which supports improved access to education, entertainment and employment centers around the Valley. Valley Metro is collaborating with 18 artists to design art installations throughout the extension.