Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Fed aid lacking, Tempe revamps streetcar plan

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Tempe, Ariz., officials are revising plans for a 2.6-mile streetcar, interfacing with the Phoenix area's Valley Metro light rail transit line, after failing to qualify for "Small Starts" federal funding administered by the Federal Transit Administration.

The proposal reportedly did well in FTA's economic-development standards, but fell short of FTA's measures for cost effectiveness, as well as population and density.

An option is to begin with a smaller 1-mile route, which might meet FTA's standards.

Tempe and Valley Metro sought federal funds to cover about one-third of the 2.6-mil3 project, estimated to cost $129 million. Maricopa County's regional transit board has approved $73 million for the project. Valley Metro CEO Stephen Banta has stressed the agency's continued support for the streetcar.