Phoenix, Arizona/Central Phoenix/East Valley Corridor

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Central Phoenix/East Valley Corridor

Phoenix, Arizona

(November 2000)

Description

The Regional Public Transportation Authority (RPTA) is proposing to implement a 25-mile at-grade light rail system to connect the cities of Phoenix, Tempe, and Mesa. As a first step, the RPTA is undertaking preliminary engineering on a 20.3 mile segment from the Chris-Town Mall area, through downtown Phoenix and downtown Tempe, to Mesa. The proposed project would have 28 stations and serve major activity centers including downtown Phoenix, the Sky Harbor Airport, Papago Park Center and downtown Tempe. It will be the centerpiece of redevelopment along Apache Boulevard in Mesa. The proposed 20.3 mile LRT system is estimated to cost approximately $1.076 billion (escalated), of which the RPTA intends to seek $533.4 million in New Starts funding.

Summary Description

 

Proposed Project:

Light rail transit
20.3 miles, 28 stations

Total Capital Cost ($YOE):
Section 5309 Share ($YOE):

$1.076 billion
$533.4 million

Annual Operating Cost ($YOE):

$15 million

Ridership Forecast (2020):

24,400 avg. weekday riders
9,900 daily new riders

FY 2002 Finance Rating:
FY 2002 Project Justification Rating:
FY 2002 Overall Project Rating:

Medium-High
Not-Rated
Not Rated

The Central Phoenix/East Valley Corridor is Not-Rated pending the determination of a Minimum Operating Segment (MOS) and updating of the regional travel demand model. However, the local financial commitment of capital and operating funds demonstrate a high level of local support for the project. The overall project rating applies to this Annual New Starts Report and reflects conditions as of November 2000. Project evaluation is an ongoing process. As new starts projects proceed through development, the estimates of costs, benefits, and impacts are refined. The FTA ratings and recommendations will be updated annually to reflect new information, changing conditions, and refined financing plans.

Status

The RPTA completed the Central Phoenix/East Valley (CP/EV) Major Investment Study (MIS) in the spring of 1998. In September 1998, FTA granted permission to enter the Preliminary Engineering/Environmental Impact Statement (PE/EIS) phase on a 13-mile segment of the corridor. FTA subsequently approved preliminary engineering on 20.3 miles of the proposed system. Since the original approval, the size and scope of the proposed MOS and issues related to the regional travel demand model have been identified that remain to be resolved. As of the date of this report, the anticipated completion of PE/FEIS cannot be determined. The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) (local metropolitan planning organization) adopted the CP/EV Corridor as a fixed-guideway corridor and included the CP/EV LRT project in the Long Range Transportation Plan and the current Regional Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP). Section 3030(a)(62) of TEA-21 authorizes the Phoenix Fixed Guideway project for final design and construction. Through FY 2001, Congress has appropriated $23.74 million for the project.

Evaluation

The CP/EV project was not evaluated for this Annual Report on New Starts because issues regarding the size and scope of the proposed MOS and the regional travel demand model are currently being resolved. FTA has evaluated this project as being in preliminary engineering. The project will be reevaluated when it is ready to advance to final design and for next year’s Annual Report on New Starts.

Justification

The Not-Rated project justification was assigned pending definition of the size and scope of the MOS and refinement of the regional travel demand model. 

Mobility Improvements

Rating: Not Rated

Mobility Improvements

New Start vs.
No-Build

New Start vs.
TSM

Annual Travel Time Savings (Hours)

N/A

N/A

Environmental Benefits

Rating: Not Rated

The Phoenix Metropolitan region is a serious non-attainment area for ozone, carbon monoxide, and particulates (PM10).

 

Criteria Pollutant

New Start vs.
No-Build

New Start vs.
TSM

 

Carbon Monoxide (CO)

N/A

N/A

 

Nitrogen Oxide (NOx)

N/A

N/A

 

Hydrocarbons (HC)

N/A

N/A

 

Particulate Matter (PM10)
Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

N/A
N/A

N/A
N/A

Values reflect annual tons of emissions reductions.

 

The RPTA is refining estimates for the reduction in regional energy consumption (measured in British Thermal units – BTU).

Annual Energy Savings

New Start vs.
No-Build

New Start vs.
TSM

BTU (million)

N/A

N/A

Operating Efficiencies

Rating: Not Rated

The RPTA is refining estimates of the systemwide-operating costs per passenger mile between the no-build, TSM, and new start alternatives.

 

No-Build

TSM

New Start

System Operating Cost per Passenger Mile

N/A

N/A

N/A

 

Cost Effectiveness

Rating: Not Rated

The RPTA is refining estimates of the cost effectiveness index for the proposed CP/EV LRT project

 

New Start vs.
No-Build

New Start vs.
TSM

Incremental Cost per Incremental Passenger

N/A

N/A

 

Transit-Supportive Existing Land Use and Future Patterns

Rating: Medium

The Medium land use rating reflects the generally low- to medium-densities along the corridor, the number of significant trip generators, and local efforts to encourage transit-oriented development.

Existing Conditions: The proposed alignment is characterized by predominantly low density residential, commercial, and industrial uses with two higher density nodes in downtown Phoenix and downtown Tempe. The corridor serves several high trip generators, including the 20,000 seat America West Arena; the Phoenix Civic Plaza/Convention Center; the 50,000 seat Bank One Ballpark; Sky Harbor International Airport; 75,000 seat Sun Devil Stadium; and the campus of Arizona State University (ASU; 42,000 students), and the Apache Boulevard Redevelopment Area in Tempe east of ASU, which boast the highest residential density in the state. The corridor also contains several of the largest employment centers in the region and 12 % of metropolitan area employment. Downtown Phoenix and the City of Tempe have instituted strong parking policies such as the removal of minimum parking requirements for new office and retail development in the CBD.

Future Plans and Policies: Local jurisdictions and agencies have made some progress in examining and implementing transit supportive plans and policies in the corridor. The Maricopa Association of Governments has produced Pedestrian Area Policies and Design Guidelines to guide member city planning and design efforts. Several small area plans have been revised to accommodate higher intensity, mixed use development. RPTA is working with transit and planning departments of affected cities to develop a TOD model ordinance. Several significant new developments are being planned along the corridor, including the 7 million square foot Rio Salado development. While there is progress with new housing development in downtown Phoenix, plans to support higher intensities of housing in other portions of the alignment are limited.

Local Financial Commitment

Proposed Non-Section 5309 Share of Total Project Costs: 50%

The financial plan for the 20.5 mile Central Phoenix/East Valley LRT MOS includes $533.4 million (YOE) (50 percent) in Section 5309 New Start funds, $7.6 million in FHWA flexible funding, and $355.2 million (33 percent) in funds from the City of Phoenix, $150.5 million from the City of Tempe, and $29 million from the City of Mesa.

Stability and Reliability of Capital Financing Plan

Rating: Medium-High

The Medium-High rating reflects the availability of a dedicated source of revenue to finance the construction and operation of the proposed system and the existing regional transit system.

Agency Capital Financial Condition: The RPTA is in good financial condition. On March 14th, 2000, the Proposition 2000 was approved by the voters of the City of Phoenix, thus providing an increase to the local sales tax of 0.4 percent dedicated to transit development. Additionally, the RPTA currently receives annual funding from the State’s Local Transportation Assistance Fund (LTAF)/Public Transit Fund (PTF) which is used for the capital and operating needs of the existing bus system.

Capital Cost Estimates and Contingencies: Capital cost estimates for the proposed project have doubled since 1998, reflecting refinements in project engineering, an increase in the length of the project, an increase in the number of vehicles required, and the addition of higher contingency factors. The revised cost estimate is reasonable at this stage of development.

Existing and Committed Funding: The Cities of Phoenix, Tempe, and Mesa each have committed funds for the local match for the project from existing, dedicated sources of funding. The City of Phoenix receives funding from the 0.4 percent sales tax. The City of Tempe receives funding from a 0.5 percent dedicated sales tax, and the City of Mesa has committed funding from its general fund.

New and Proposed Sources: No new sources of funding are proposed.

Stability and Reliability of Operating Finance Plan

Rating: Medium-High

The Medium-High rating reflects the availability of a dedicated source of revenue to finance the construction and operation of the proposed system and the existing regional transit system.

Agency Operating Condition: The RPTA is in good financial condition. The RPTA has an annual operating and maintenance budget of $103 million and a farebox recovery ratio of 31 percent for its current bus system. The RPTA currently receives annual funding from the State’s Local Transportation Assistance Fund (LTAF)/Public Transit Fund (PTF). On March 14th, 2000, the Proposition 2000 was approved by the voters of the City of Phoenix, providing an increase of 0.4 percent in the local sales tax dedicated to transit development and operations.

Operating Cost Estimates and Contingencies: Annual operating costs for the proposed project are estimated at $15 million when the system is scheduled to open in 2006. Cost estimates and escalation factors are reasonable.

Existing and Committed Funding: The Cities of Phoenix, Tempe, and Mesa each have committing funds for the local match for the project from existing, dedicated sources of funding. The City of Phoenix receives funding from the 0.4 percent sales tax. The City of Tempe receives funding from a 0.5 percent dedicated sales tax, and the City of Mesa has committed funding from its general fund.

New and Proposed Sources: No New sources of funding are proposed.

Locally Proposed Financing Plan
(Reported in $YOE)

 

Proposed Source of Funds

Total Funding ($million)

 

Appropriations to Date

Federal:

     
 

Section 5309 New Starts

FHWA Flexible Funds

$533.4

$7.6

 

($23.74 million appropriated through FY 2001)

Local:

     
 

City of Phoenix

City of Tempe

$355.2

$150.5

   
 

City of Mesa

$29.0

   
 

TOTAL

$1,075.9

   

NOTE: Funding proposal reflects assumptions made by project sponsors, and are not DOT or FTA assumptions. Totals may not add due to rounding.

 

Map of 25-mile at-grade light rail system to connect the cities of Phoenix, Tempe, and Mesa.