A move to extend the City of Phoenix’s light rail network has been dealt a blow as the result of a vote by the Phoenix City Council transferring some $135 million from the project to other transportation needs.
On a 5 to 3 vote, council members determined that the money would be put to better use funding road repairs throughout the city.
As proposed, the extension of the Valley Metro Rail system would have gone down Camelback Road from the downtown area to the campus of Grand Canyon University.
The council decision comes after months of discussions during which pro-transit supporters said the transit extension was needed to bring Phoenix closer to its goal of being one of the most transit-oriented cities in the West, while opponents have largely complained about the cost.
An overall $31 billion transportation package that included nearly $10 billion for expanding the light rail system was approved by voters in the summer of 2015.
Last year a group called Building a Better Phoenix launched an effort calling for a referendum to overturn the results of the 2015 vote. That group was successful in obtaining enough signatures to get the question put on a ballot for this coming August.
Encompassing just over 26 miles, the Phoenix Metro Rail system began operations in late 2008 and is regarded by the American Public Transportation Association as one of the top fifteen most busy light rail systems in the country.
Newly elected Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego has vowed to support the expansion of the light rail system, additionally promising to campaign in opposition to the coming referendum.
By Garry Boulard
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