Valley Metro secures $638 million for South Central Light Rail Extension

Dec. 7, 2020
The federal funding for the 5.5-mile rail project comes from the FTA’s CIG program and the FHA.

Valley Metro has been awarded $638 million in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation for the South Central Light Rail Extension project, according to U.S. Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.). 

The funds will come from two sources, a $528.8-million impending grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) through the Capital Investment Grants (CIG) Program and $108 million from the Federal Highway Administration (FHA). FTA has notified Congress of its intention to award a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) to Valley Metro, which will represent approximately 40 percent of the project cost. Valley Metro anticipates the FFGA will be executed in January 2021. 

“It is thrilling to see this grant agreement, which comes at a time when investment could not be more important,” said Phoenix Mayor and Valley Metro Rail Board Vice Chair Kate Gallego. “We have been working towards this day for years and it is a personal passion for me because of the economic development, business, education and community connections that light rail can deliver.”

The project will connect Valley Metro’s current light-rail system in downtown Phoenix and operate south 5.5 miles to Baseline Road in the South Mountain Village Core. The project includes eight stations, including a hub in downtown Phoenix, two park-and-rides, public art and the purchase of 17 light-rail vehicles.

Valley Metro says the transit project is more than a train, but “a catalyst for positive change” and “a way to bring new opportunities and connections” to residents of South Phoenix.

“Today’s funding announcement of the South Central light-rail expansion will create jobs, expand transportation options and grow Arizona’s economy,” said Sen. Sinema.

The senators explain roughly 38 percent of the population in the area to be served by the future light-rail service currently lives below the poverty level and 12 percent of the households in this community do not own cars.

“This is a significant investment in South Phoenix and the entire valley. By connecting South Phoenix with the rest of the Valley Metro light rail, this project will give folks a reliable transportation option and increase economic opportunity,” said Sen. Kelly.

When the extension opens in 2024, it will operate every 12 minutes for most of the weekday, every 20 minutes during late night and early morning hours and every 15 to 20 minutes on the weekends.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.