Voters Could End Approved Light Rail Projects in Phoenix

The future of light rail in Phoenix is in voters' hands.

April 16, 2019, 8:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Valley Metro

Tom Roche / Shutterstock

"A group of light-rail opponents dubbed Building a Better Phoenix collected enough signatures to force light rail back on the ballot," reports Jessica Boehm. "Proponents of light rail tried tried [sic] to get the initiative kicked off the ballot in a legal challenge this week, but were unsuccessful." 

"If passed, the Building a Better Phoenix Initiative would halt all light-rail spending and cancel all light-rail projects approved by voters in 2015," explains Boehm, including the South Central extension, the Capitol/I-10 West extension, Phase II of the Northwest extension, the ASU West extension, the West Phoenix/Camelback extension, and the Northeast extension.

Any future rail spending, on Amtrak or of commuter rail, would also be forbidden by the initiative.

"The funding for the planned light-rail extensions comes from three sources," explains Boehm: "countywide transportation tax revenue, federal grants and revenue from a city sales tax increase voters approved in 2015."

"If the initiative passes, the city's sales tax revenue will divert to other transportation projects, including sidewalk improvements, road repairs and new bus systems. The Phoenix Citizens Transportation Commission will recommend how the money should be spent."

The qualification of the referendum for citywide election is just the latest setback for public transit politics in Phoenix, coming just a few weeks after the Phoenix City Council voted to rescind funding for the West Phoenix/Camelback extension. 

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