It was a party. Complete with big top tent, a bunch of food and drink from local businesses and a band playing in the streets. Hundreds of people gathered today to celebrate the future light rail extension that is coming to Mesa. In addition to the party atmosphere, people rubbed elbows with the movers and shakers from valley transportation circles. Politicians, their staff, contractors, business leaders all got together as the people from Friends of Transit introduced the days speakers.
METRO CEO Steve Banta and Mesa Mayor Scott Smith gave some great insight as to what is to come. There is obviously a lot of excitement over the first light rail extension in Arizona and the impact it will have in downtown Mesa.
I didn’t take a ton of pics but you can see a few shots from the day in the slideshow below. I have also included a press release from METRO announcing the days activities.
May 30, 2012
Today, METRO commemorates the start of construction in Central Mesa
Construction of the Valley’s first light rail extension to initiate in coming weeks
PHOENIX, AZ — METRO light rail is on the move in Central Mesa. This morning, a groundbreaking ceremony was held to commemorate the start of construction on the 3.1-mile light rail line into downtown Mesa, AZ and to rally support for the neighboring business community.
“This is a major milestone not only for Mesa but for the region,” said Mesa Mayor Scott Smith. “We have been waiting for this for a long time. This expansion will create a destination that is unique in the Valley and also offers great opportunity for economic growth.”
The event marks the first construction activity and extension of the existing 20-mile light rail that runs in Phoenix, Tempe and a mile into Mesa and opened in December 2008. The 3.1-mile Central Mesa extension will continue light rail east on Main Street from the current end-of-line at Sycamore, through downtown Mesa to Mesa Drive. It will add four stations to the system and is expected to open in late 2015, earlier than previously scheduled.
“While we’ll build in Mesa, this project has economic and transportation benefits beyond city borders,” said Valley Metro CEO Steve Banta. “The Central Mesa extension will provide greater connectivity for the entire East Valley and an economic boost in jobs and activity that will be felt across the region.”
A critical component to the construction plan is providing the neighboring businesses with resources, technical services and marketing to support them during construction. METRO, alongside the City of Mesa and several business partners, has developed a comprehensive business assistance program. One of the first roll-outs is the METRO Max Rewards program, which offers consumers savings for shopping local and with participating businesses.
Construction is set to begin in mid-June by the Central Mesa Design-Build team, Valley Transit Constructors, a Kiewit/Mass. Joint Venture. The first phase is utility relocation.
For more information on the Central Mesa project, visit www.metrolightrail.org/centralmesa. To stay engaged with the project, email Lisa Procknow (firstname.lastname@example.org) to be added to the email distribution list or connect on Facebook (www.facebook.com/METROrailconstruction).