Recently, a public meeting was held to discuss the METRO I-10 West Project study being done to determine how to extend high capacity transit to the West Valley. The study is evaluating possible routes to connect the METRO starter line, station / park and ride locations, and the type of transit mode (either light rail transit or bus rapid transit) that meet their stated goals. The I-10 West extension will travel westbound from the METRO starter line in downtown Phoenix to the 79th Avenue park-and-ride area.
While bus rapid transit is being considered, let’s go out on a limb here and say they will choose light rail as a way to move people to and from the West Valley. Original projections for Metro’s I-10 West extension show the new line will begin operation in 2019, however there is now talk that all of the proposed extensions are looking at a 2 year delay due to lack of revenue from Prop 400. It was mentioned that voters decided to use the middle of I-10 as a way to get people in and out of the city, but there are other options to consider as to the best way to get to I-10 from the existing line. Of the four alternatives under consideration, I get the feeling they are leaning towards the Washington / Jefferson route over the Jefferson/Jackson, Adams/Jackson or the Adams/Monroe route. Each of the routes have strengths and weaknesses, but a decision appears to be close even though the project appears to have been delayed to 2021.
At the meeting there was a lot of discussion about the impact of each of the areas under consideration, with plenty of emphasis on the use patterns and economic development of our current system. The State Capitol Building and surrounding area appear to be a large draw.
More than one person in the audience questioned the use of I-10 to run the trains out of the city as a people mover, stating that you will not see as much economic development because you can not build a coffee shop, restaurant, gallery or grocery store in the middle of a freeway. The obvious argument for I-10, instead of say, Thomas, is that it provides a rapid way to move people to and from an area many believe will be a high growth region.
For now, there is probably still a lot of politics, posturing and analysis to be done, but we’ll try to keep up as best we can.