An unprecedented move to halt the continuing construction of the City of Phoenix’s massive light rail network will be decided in a special election set for August 27.
City officials have said that they want to build some six new extensions to the Valley Metro Light Rail system in the next two decades.
In response, Proposition 105 is calling for an amendment to the city’s charter that will officially curtail any new light rail extension initiatives.
Instead, according to the supporters of that proposition, the money for such projects would be diverted to a host of other transportation infrastructure projects across Phoenix.
That money comes a 0.7 percent transportation sales tax, revenues of which are specifically dedicated to light rail development and construction.
Former Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, who spearheaded the development of the city’s light rail infrastructure, has come out against Proposition 105, contending that it will not only stop ongoing light rail expansion, but is instead a “full attack on any and all future rail projects.”
Writing in the Arizona Republic, Stanton additionally noted that if the proposition wins, “billions in federal money could be taken from Phoenix and given to other cities like Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, or Salt Lake City, which have active rail projects.”
A group called the Arizona Free Enterprise Club is promoting Proposition 105, saying that continued light rail expansion is costing the city too much.
Aimee Yenes, vice president of that club, noted in a study released by the group that the economic benefits touted regarding continued light rail expansion have failed to include the negative impact such expansion has had in “displacing or shuttering small businesses along the construction of the line.”
Complicating the battle for both sides is the wording of the August 27 ballot: “a Yes vote will require the city to end new light rail extension work; a No vote will allow the city to pursue continued expansion projects.”
By Garry Boulard
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