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.
Michelle A. Eyre says
Hopefully, METRO will learn from the major mistake in the original alignment, an ungated right-of-way and 35 MPH speed limits. If this alignment does not go on the freeway, it should not go on a surface street but instead should be in private right of way with grade crossing gates. This will mean the trains will be able to operate to 55MPH.
Myself, I would like to see Metro create an extension from the Central/Washington area via the Jefferson/Washington corridor to the state capitol and run this line from Sycamore to the West Valley. A separate “Central Line” could be created to run between Montebello and the 3rd Street stations using 11th Street as a turnaround point (I know this will upset some in this area). If Metro extends into South Phoenix, then the “Central Line” would then operate in that direction.
I do not feel that ridership would dictate operating a branch route trunked between 3JF/3WA and SYMN. This would mean 5 minute headway in the trunk zone which is overkill.
Especially with METRO’s poor on-platforms systems, could you imagine trying to communicate which branch line train is coming next. Keep it simple. Leave the confusion to the one station (3JF/3WA).
As far as the alignment in the westside goes. First of all, there needs to be mile stops along the alignment to meet up with connecting transit services. It also needs to go to Desert Sky Mall. DSky is a major transit hub and the gateway to Avondale. With the exception of the Rapid, there is no one seat ride between Desert Sky and Downtown. It would be nice if the LRT could do that.
David SB says
My point of view differs from Michelle’s. I don’t consider the alignment of the 20-mile starter line a mistake at all. An opportunity for a private right-of-way did not exist, and if it did, it would probably be too far removed from the activity centers that light rail serves. If light rail runs in the I-10 median, it will work as commuter rail to west side park-and-rides but not really interact much with the surrounding neighborhoods. That may be an acceptable tradeoff, but it should be entereed into with the understanding of what is lost when rail transit is kept separate from its urban context.