U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Recommends $20 Million Toward Construction of Light Rail in Phoenix Region

2/14/2012
Contact: Angela Gates
(202) 366-3669

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today recommended $20 million in new transit construction funding for a 3.1-mile extension of the Central Mesa Light Rail Transit line that will seamlessly connect two of Arizona’s fastest-growing cities, Phoenix and Mesa.

The project is included in President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget submitted to Congress yesterday, which recommends $2.2 billion in funding to initiate or advance construction of 29 significant rail and bus rapid transit projects in 15 states.

“President Obama called on us to rebuild America by putting people back to work on transportation infrastructure projects that are built to last,” said Secretary LaHood. “Throughout Arizona, there is work to be done on projects like these. The budget proposal released yesterday demonstrates our commitment to putting people back to work building the infrastructure we need to improve our transit systems, highways, railways, airports and ports well in to the future. At this make-or-break moment for the middle class, we can afford to do no less.”

The President’s budget recommendation would provide funds for new construction of a light rail line that will greatly improve access to major employment centers in Phoenix and Mesa and reduce congestion in Maricopa County.

“The Obama Administration continues to make transformational investments in our nation’s transit infrastructure that open the door to more jobs and opportunities for millions of Americans,” said Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff. “Offering a transfer-free connection between the existing Central Phoenix light rail line and downtown Mesa will make it easier and more convenient for millions of commuters, students, and tourists to reach all of the major activity centers of downtown Phoenix, downtown Tempe, Arizona State University, and Sky Harbor International Airport.”

The new light rail line is in addition to the existing Central Phoenix/East Valley Light Rail line, which opened in 2008. The FTA provided $587 million for the existing project and its extensions, including $36 million from the Recovery Act, which is estimated to have spurred more than $5 billion in economic development along the Phoenix-Mesa corridor.

Today’s recommendation is part of the FTA’s Annual Report on Funding Recommendations for Fiscal Year 2013, available online here. Individual detailed project descriptions are available here.

The New Starts and Small Starts capital investment program is one of the largest discretionary grant programs in the U.S. Government. Proposed projects, such as rapid rail, light rail, commuter rail, bus rapid transit, and ferries, are evaluated and rated on a number of measures at several steps in the process as they seek FTA approval for a federal funding commitment to finance project construction.

Secretary LaHood and FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff recently proposed changes to this program to cut red tape in order to allow approved projects to begin construction sooner and help FTA focus more on local needs, such as economic development, community revitalization, and responding to historically underserved populations.

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