The question of the day is this: Is rail right for South Phoenix? The questions about light rail expansion, funding and route selections are always good for some pretty heated discussions. Sean Holstege wrote another good article today discussing the potential for a South Phoenix transit extension that could potentially extend the current line along Central Avenue down to Southern Avenue and beyond.
Apparently, there is “a $400,000 congressional earmark and $100,000 from the city of Phoenix” that will help in studying the feasibility of the extension. Too bad they can’t add a few bucks and see if it makes more sense to go to Baseline.
Remember the Baseline Corridor? It was touted as another great turn around area during the real estate boom. Plenty of land, ripe for development, great views of downtown, close to jobs, freeways and more. For a few years, the area went gangbusters. Recently, it just seems to have gone bust. Downtown advocates appear to be interested in adding a transportation mix to the area and building some more infill projects. In building rail along Central, there just might be an opportunity to do some more dense or urban projects along with the traditional Arizona way of building as many single family homes and strip malls as possible
Sean’s article mentions some hurdles that might be in the way of a possible light rail extension along Central Avenue. As you can see from the map below, a line along Central Avenue from the current light rail line, has to cross a freeway, a river bottom, and railroad tracks before getting to Southern.
View Phoenix Valley METRO Light Rail in a larger map
Another interesting point of Sean’s article is the discussion of a light rail ( or streetcar / rapid bus ) expansion helping to alleviate some of the congestion along the Broadway Curve near the Tempe / Phoenix border.
These studies take a LONG time and any findings from the study will probably take many years before we see any results. This is going to be an interesting discussion and an interesting process. As the newest possible light rail route to be discussed, it gives a lot of opportunity for people to give their .02.
South Phoenix has a ton of potential for future development. How to get people around, as they do in many large cities, remains to be a big question.