The engineering phase of a much-anticipated extension of the Valley Metro Transit System’s light rail system in Phoenix is expected to begin this summer.
That north to south extension into the south central section of the city will add some 6 miles to what is currently a 26-mile operating line.
As part of the project, the existing four lanes of S. Central Avenue will be reduced to both a single wide lane and a bike lane going in both directions.
The project, which will also see the construction of 11 stations, has been the subject of several public meetings.
But the owners of some businesses along the S. Central Avenue stretch, between Jefferson Street and Baseline Road, have expressed concerns over the possible economic consequences of reducing the avenue to two lanes.
In a part of town populated with small restaurants, warehouses, and garages, it has been charged that the reduced lanes will lead to traffic congestion.
That congestion, in turn, could prompt many drivers to find other routes of travel, negatively impacting businesses along the 6-mile stretch.
A group called “4 Lanes or No Train” wants the city to either alter the plans for the S. Central Extension or abandon the project altogether.
So far, city officials have said either option is unlikely given that the Valley Metro Transit System is under pressure to meet several project deadlines in the coming months in order to satisfy federal funding requirements.
By Garry Boulard
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