This approval comes following the submittal of the project's Environmental Assessment, required to understand the extension's effect on its neighboring environment and to continue to receive federal funds.
"The Gilbert Road extension was made possible through creative financing and a vision that connects light rail to a main thoroughfare with easy access to both the Superstition and Red Mountain freeways," said Mesa Mayor Scott Smith. "We are happy to hear that Valley Metro has received approval from the FTA and we are excited to see the project moving forward."
After more than a year of reviewing potential property, historic preservation, air quality, noise and vibration, hazardous material and other impact areas, the receipt of the FONSI indicates that no significant environmental effect would occur with the implementation of this project.
"As we continue to build our valley's total transit network, the Gilbert Road extension helps satisfy the growing demand for transit service in the East Valley," said Steve Banta, Valley Metro CEO. "With this approval, we can begin the important next steps of advancing into the design phase."
The 1.9-mile Gilbert Rd. project will extend light rail beyond the Central Mesa extension on Main St. to Gilbert Rd. in Mesa by 2018. It consists of two stations and a park-and-ride on the southwest corner of Main St. and Gilbert Rd. The preliminary engineering continues to identify proposed utility relocations, track and street logistics and determining right-of-way and permanent easement needs. Construction for utility relocations is anticipated to begin in spring 2015 with operations beginning in 2018.