U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood today visited Mesa to take part in a grant signing ceremony providing the city with $75 million from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to build a 3.1-mile light rail extension connecting the city with Phoenix and Tempe. Secretary LaHood was joined at the event by Congressman Ed Pastor, Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff and local officials.
"The Obama Administration is committed to bringing more public transportation choices to fast-growing cities like Mesa," said Secretary LaHood. "By investing in this light rail project, we are helping thousands of workers, seniors, students and others in Maricopa County connect with jobs, medical care, and all the services this region has to offer."
The new Central Mesa Extension, operated by Valley Metro Rail, will run from Sycamore to Mesa Drive on Main Street and connect residents in the downtown hubs of Phoenix, Mesa, and Tempe. It is expected to spur new residential and commercial development in downtown Mesa while providing convenient, reliable access to Arizona State University and Sky Harbor International Airport.
"In Arizona and across the country, people are choosing transit over traffic," said Administrator Rogoff, who toured the planned route in March 2011. "Extending the popular Central Mesa light rail line will open more doors to economic opportunity and spur new commercial development downtown, while reducing congestion in one of the state's fastest-growing regions."
Federal funding for the project includes $75 million through FTA's Capital Investment (New Starts/Small Starts) program and $53 million in federal congestion mitigation funds. Funding for the remainder of the $199 million project comes from state and local sources. Over the last six months, ridership on Valley Metro light rail has risen 6.2 percent on average, compared with the same period in 2011.