On Jan. 27, Valley Metro celebrated the opening of the Northwest Phase II extension of light rail in Phoenix, Ariz. The project includes a series of “firsts” for Valley Metro, including the first elevated station, rail-only bridge over I-17 and a multimodal transit center named after regional transit champion, former Phoenix Mayor and Councilmember Thelda Williams.
The project received $158 million from the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Capital Investment Grant program. The city of Phoenix T2050 funds provided $213 million and regional transportation funds from Proposition 400 provided the final $30 million. Construction began in 2020, creating 3,000 direct jobs in the community and more than 6,000 indirect jobs across the country.
“I am proud to be back in Phoenix, less than three years after signing the grant that funded this important extension that will make such a difference in the lives of people in this region,” said FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez. “This was the first project funded by FTA under President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the city and Valley Metro have done incredible work building it on budget and delivering the project earlier than expected. Congratulations to all.”
“This extension has been part of Phoenix’s transit vision for more than two decades,” said Phoenix Mayor and Maricopa Association of Governments Regional Council Chair Kate Gallego. “Today’s expansion is not only a celebration of our community’s vision and commitment to sustainable growth, but also the region’s Proposition 400 investment, totaling nearly $1.3 billion to establish and grow our light-rail system. Light rail has changed the way our community travels, fostering mobility freedom and economic opportunity across our county.”
The new extension includes three stations and is anticipated to initially attract 1,400 new, daily riders to the system each day. Crossing the I-17, the project gives greater transit access to the West Valley, connecting current and future riders with opportunities in central Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa.
“This project represents years and years of hard work, at the city, county and federal level,” said Rep. Greg Stanton (D-AZ-04). “There’s no question light rail has been a resounding success—not just as a way to move people, but as an economic development tool. Phase II is going to connect residents in the West Valley to jobs and education in central Phoenix, and all the way to Tempe and Mesa.”
Featured along the new extension, there are nine different art elements created by seven artists reflecting the character and history of the local community. Art is incorporated into the new stations, parking garage and the Thelda Williams Transit Center. The four-story parking garage has solar panels to support the facility's infrastructure and the transit center is served by five bus routes. Valley Metro is hoping to potentially run a bus rapid transit route as well in the future.
“This is a wonderful day for Phoenix residents and everyone who travels across the Valley,” said Phoenix Councilmember and Valley Metro Rail Board Chair Laura Pastor. “Riders from northwest Phoenix will now have access to jobs and education across our entire region. ASU campuses, Sky Harbor, employment centers, housing, recreation and entertainment are all easily accessible.”
“We have made the leap over one of our busiest and most vital freeways with a bridge that opens the door to the West Valley. Congratulations to the Valley Metro team, our contractors and our neighbors, working in lockstep with the city of Phoenix, to deliver a project ahead of schedule and on budget that beautifies and enriches our community, as depicted by Alberto Rios’ Light Rail Hummingbird,” said Valley Metro CEO Jessica Mefford-Miller.