U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood signs the funding agreement with Valley Metro CEO, Steve Banta
Officials line-up in front of construction equipment to celebrate the federal funding for light rail (from left): Mesa Councilmember Dennis Kavanaugh, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, Secretary Ray LaHood, Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff, Congressman Ed Pastor, Mesa Councilmember Christopher Glover, Valley Metro CEO Steve Banta
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff announced in Mesa, Ariz. that $75 million will be provided by the Federal Transit Administration to help fund Valley Metro's 3.1-mile light rail extension into downtown Mesa.
"People are riding light rail, bus rapid transit and streetcar because they want options," said Secretary LaHood. "With this light rail project, you've joined together with your vision and you are creating jobs as you build and run the system, leaving behind something valuable for the next generation."
Mesa Mayor Scott Smith welcomed the federal dignitaries, including U.S. Representative Ed Pastor, at a special event held near a future light rail station just north of the Mesa Arts Center on Main and Center streets.
"We appreciate the support of our federal partners," said Steve Banta, Valley Metro CEO. "They have seen the success of our transit system and are willing to support its growth for the benefit of our riders and local economy."
Average daily ridership on the light rail system in September was nearly 50,000 passengers per weekday, inching ever closer to the 20-year ridership projection. The increase in September was 3.7 percent over the same period one year ago. The Central Mesa extension will expand light rail from Sycamore and Main streets to Mesa Drive adding four light rail stations and a park-and-ride.
"We've already seen the kind of impact rail can bring to our city," Mayor Smith said. "Light rail was a major factor in the four colleges' decision to set up campuses in downtown Mesa. I'm confident that over the next five to 10 years the impact that light rail will have on bringing other new development to our downtown will be significant."
The expansion, which should begin service in late 2015, is anticipated to serve nearly 10,000 daily riders. The total cost of the extension is approximately $200 million and will come from federal sources and the regional half-cent countywide sales tax dedicated to fund a regional transit system in Maricopa County.
For more information about the Central Mesa light rail extension, go to www.ValleyMetro.org.