Final grant agreement in place for Valley Metro’s South Central Light Rail Extension

Jan. 7, 2021
The $529.8-million agreement will help Valley Metro build the 5.5-mile extension that will connect downtown Phoenix to the south side of the city.

Valley Metro in Phoenix, Ariz., and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) have finalized a $529.8-million grant agreement through the Capital Investment Grants (CIG) Program for the South Central Light Rail Extension/Downtown Hub project. FTA notified Congress in early December of its intention to award the funding at the end of a mandatory 30-day review period.  

The project will loop into Valley Metro’s existing light-rail system and extend rail service south 5.5 miles to Baseline Road. The project includes a downtown hub that will allow for transfers between lines, eight stations and two park-and-ride facilities.

"This $529.8 million federal grant agreement will better connect Phoenix residents to jobs, education and essential services," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

Valley Metro’s website calls the South Central Light Rail Extension more than “just a train,” but a “catalyst for positive change.” More than a quarter of households located along the project corridor do not own cars and approximately 38 percent live below the poverty level. The project will improve mobility and connect to activity centers such as Arizona State University and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

"FTA is proud to join our partners in Arizona to improve mobility and spur economic development along this corridor," said FTA Deputy Administrator K. Jane Williams. "Transit riders on the South Central Light Rail line can look forward to more efficient service connecting them to destinations throughout the Phoenix region, while supporting economic recovery."

The CIG funding agreement covers just shy of 40 percent of the $1.35 billion total cost of the project. The total project cost is $1.35 billion with $529.8 million in funding provided through FTA's Capital Investment Grants (CIG) Program. The local share of the project costs is being funded through tax revenues from two initiatives approved by voters in 2004 and 2015. The most recent initiative funds Transportation 2050, Phoenix’s 35-year multi-modal transportation plan that includes 42 miles of new light rail.

The South Central Light Rail Extension/Downtown Hub project is expected to open in 2024.

FTA published a video on the grant announcement, which can be viewed below:

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.