Monday, October 15, 2012

Mesa, Ariz., marks funds for LRT extension

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Continuing a nationwide tour dispensing federal transit funds, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood on Friday bestowed $75 million to Mesa, Ariz., for a 3.1-mile extension of Valley Metro light rail transit more deeply into the municipality.

LaHood was joined by Rep. Ed Pastor (D-Ariz.), Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff, among others.

"The Obama Administration is committed to bringing more public transportation choices to fast-growing cities like Mesa," LaHood said. "By investing in this light rail project, we are helping thousands of workers, seniors, students and others in Maricopa County connect with jobs, medical care, and all the services this region has to offer."

"In Arizona and across the country, people are choosing transit over traffic," said Rogoff. "Extending the popular Central Mesa light rail line will open more doors to economic opportunity and spur new commercial development downtown, while reducing congestion in one of the state's fastest-growing regions."

The $75 million comes from FTA's Capital Investment (New Starts/Small Starts) program; the project also is receiving $53 million in federal congestion mitigation (CMAQ) funds. Funding for the remainder of the $199 million project comes from state and local sources. The Mesa extension, scheduled to begin revenue service in late 2015,  is expected to serve 10,000 daily riders.

LaHood arrived in Mesa Friday after attending a San Francisco ceremony Thursday, bestowing $942.2 million in FTA funds to extend that city's Third Street light rail system through the city's Chinatown neighborhood.