Federal and local dignitaries gathered Friday to celebrate the signing of a $158 million full funding grant agreement for the Northwest Light Rail Extension Phase II (NWEII). The extension adds 1.6 miles of track, three stations and a multimodal transit center to the existing 28-mile light rail system. The event culminated an exciting week for transportation with the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed into law on Monday.
“This extension is going to enable more people to enjoy safe, fast, frequent and reliable public transportation, and it’s an environmentally-friendly project,” said FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez. “This connection will tie people to downtown, to Arizona State University and Sky Harbor International Airport—high-activity areas where there is job generation.”
Connecting from the existing end-of-line at 19th Avenue and Dunlap, the extension will provide greater transit access to Phoenix residents west of the I-17 thanks to a new rail-only bridge that will be built over the freeway and the first elevated station. It is expected to serve 5,700 riders each day.
“With the Northwest Extension Phase II, we see a community identifying transportation needs, developing smart solutions, standing up for its values and investing local dollars in these projects.” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Thanks to this project, communities will now have better and more affordable access to jobs, healthcare, services, downtown and everywhere that Valley Metro reaches.”
“The construction of this light rail connection will serve thousands of daily riders, opening up opportunities for folks to access education and good-paying jobs,” said U.S. Senator Mark Kelly. “That’s how we continue to make the Valley a great place to live and to work. Like the other infrastructure projects we will see in our state, it’s going to put folks back to work.”
“One of the things I’m most proud of from my time as mayor is asking voters to grow our economy with an expansion of light rail into new neighborhoods throughout the city,” said U.S. Representative Greg Stanton. “But even with voter approval, it cannot happen without federal investment. Making this extension a reality is a catalyst for economic and social transformation, connecting the Northwest Valley to economic opportunities, jobs, education, health care, social services and more––in this region and beyond.”
“This extension will power our economy, connecting new parts of the city to educational institutions, employment centers, and a vibrant offering of arts, culture, and sports,” said Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego. “Combined with support coming from President Biden’s new infrastructure plan, we will strengthen our multi-modal transit system, reduce greenhouse gasses, and speed towards our climate goals.”
“Transit plays a major role in serving our diverse community and the fastest-growing county in the United States,” said Valley Metro Board Chair and Mesa Councilmember Francisco Heredia. “We will need all transit and transportation solutions on the table as we expect over a million more people to be coming to the Phoenix area in the next 10 years.”
“Our system is relatively young—only 13 years old—but in that time, has changed our communities for the better,” said Valley Metro CEO Scott Smith. “We have seen unprecedented mobility, development and change for the good. Northwest Extension Phase II has a huge impact because of where it is, crossing a boundary between central and west Phoenix, and ending at one of the most exciting and unique redevelopment efforts in the entire country.”
The project’s total cost is $401 million, paid for by the federal Capital Investment Grant, announced today, Proposition 400 regional funds and city of Phoenix T2050 funds. Construction began in September 2020 and the extension is scheduled to begin operating in 2024.