Valley Metro’s Northwest Extension full funding advances to Congress for review

Written by David C. Lester, Managing Editor
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Full funding for Valley Metro’s Northwest Extension advances to Congress.
Valley Metro

Federal and local leaders are pleased to see the $158 million Capital Investment Grant (CIG) for Valley Metro’s Northwest Light Rail Extension Phase II (NWE II) advance to Congress for review.

This highly competitive grant will complete the funding necessary for this project, with the final grant signing anticipated in early November.

The NWE II gives new communities greater access to major destinations along the existing light rail line. Those destinations include educational institutions, employment centers, entertainment amenities as well as the airport. The extension also will link the West Valley to high-capacity transit as a convenient and reliable travel option.

The 1.6-mile extension will connect the current end-of-line located at 19th Avenue and Dunlap to Metrocenter Mall at approximately 29th Avenue and Dunlap. The extension is unique: it will reach its destination via a bridge over the Interstate 17 highway and terminate at the region’s first elevated light rail station platform. The project also includes three transit stations, a multi-modal transit center, a parking garage and extensive public art.

USDOT’s announcement means a $158 million Capital Investment Grant (CIG) will be dedicated to the project. Total cost of the NWE II is $401 million and includes $213 million in local Transportation 2050 (T2050) monies; $30 million from regional transportation sales tax funds; and the $158 million federal grant in the pipeline. 

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said the project will now be able to meet its intended goal: to breathe new life into the neighborhoods around Metrocenter. “Projections tell us this new section of rail will serve 5,700 daily riders, and that the majority of riders will come from households without cars, opening up new options for good jobs and a good education,” said Mayor Gallego. “This will stand as a legacy project in Councilmember Ann O’Brien’s district, and for Councilmember Laura Pastor, who I recently appointed to represent Phoenix on the Valley Metro Rail Board of Directors.” 

“Today’s funding announcement represents a critical next step in the Northwest Light Rail Extension. Investing in Arizona’s public transit creates jobs, expands transportation options, and grows Arizona’s economy,” said Arizona’s senior U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema. “The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act I negotiated with Senate Republicans and the White House includes historic investments in public transit projects like this, and I’ll continue supporting crucial infrastructure investments in our state and creating opportunities for all Arizonans.” 

Funding of the Northwest Light Rail Extension project will expand Arizonans’ access to reliable public transportation and connect them to more economic opportunities,” said Arizona U.S. Senator Mark Kelly, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “Upgrading and modernizing our transportation infrastructure remains one of my top priorities which is why I worked to secure key investments in the bipartisan infrastructure bill. I will continue working to ensure that Arizonans see more critical investments into our state’s infrastructure.” 

“Years of work and advocacy have made this project possible. When it’s complete light rail will be a new connection to the Northwest Valley, opening it up to new economic opportunities—jobs, private and public investments, education, health care, social services and more,” said Rep. Greg Stanton. Stanton has been a fierce advocate for public transit since his time as mayor of Phoenix, leading the charge on T2050, one of the most ambitious transportation initiatives in the country—a bipartisan, voter-backed plan to extend Phoenix’s light rail system, expand bus service, and improve thousands of miles of roadways over the next 35 years. He has continued to fight for federal funds and increased resources for the CIG program as Vice Chair of the Highways and Transit Subcommittee. 

“As America’s fifth-largest city, Phoenix requires robust infrastructure that brings better jobs and opportunities for our residents,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego. “The Biden Administration recognizes these needed investments, and I’m excited by the announcement of full funding for the Northwest Light Rail extension. Whether going to work, out to a restaurant, or to shop, this redevelopment will connect our city in a new, innovative way.” 

“Moving a million more people across the Valley in the next three to five years is our regional transportation challenge,” said Valley Metro Rail Board Chair and Mesa Councilmember Francisco Heredia. “The Northwest Extension Phase II will be instrumental in increasing access, connecting neighborhoods, reducing future congestion and, ultimately, providing high-quality, affordable public transportation to generations. Thank you to our partners at DOT and FTA for sharing our vision, now and into the future.” 

Work on the Northwest Light Rail Extension Phase II is expected to be complete in 2024. 

About Transportation 2050: In Aug. 2015, Phoenix voters approved T2050, a 35-year citywide transportation plan. T2050 is overseen by the Citizens Transportation Commission and includes improved frequency on local bus service, new light rail service and stations and major street improvement projects. Funding for T2050 comes from a 7/10ths of a cent city sales tax that started Jan. 1, 2016. Over the life of the plan, the funds are estimated to generate about $16.7 billion, or more than half of the plan’s overall cost. There will be an additional $14.8 billion from federal and county funds, passenger fares and other sources.

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