Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was joined by Valley Metro Rail officials and local leaders this morning to take part in a ceremony to announce $36 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) funds for the Central Phoenix/East Valley Light Rail Project.
“This light rail project has been an engine for growth in the Phoenix area,” LaHood said. “And these recovery funds will ensure that transit continues to stimulate Arizona’s economy.”
The ARRA funds will help to complete the rail line and allow Valley Metro to begin work on the extension, which is expected to create 10,000 jobs over the life of the project. Funds will be used for signal work, communications, an operations control center, and further testing of two light rail cars to be put into service.
The arrival of federal funds supplements local resources, which have declined during the economic downturn, and allows for a quicker investment in the extension.
In 2005, the Federal Transit Administration signed a “full funding grant agreement” to provide $587 million, or 42 percent, of the $1.4 billion, 19.6-mile project, to be paid out over six years. Today’s allotment amounts to an advance of a portion of the project’s 2010 payout amount.
“This project demonstrates that transit serves as a focal point for new development in Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa,” LaHood said. “By getting these funds to you now, we’re providing a boost that will help other very important transit projects to keep moving forward – while also stimulating the local economy.”
Major activity centers along the light rail route include Sky Harbor Airport, Arizona State University, Papago Park Center, the Phoenix Convention Center, Chase Field, US Airways Arena and Sun Devil Stadium. Valley Metro Rail expects to carry almost 50,000 riders each weekday by the year 2020.