Phoenix Light Rail: How Northwest Extension Phase II Will Impact Phoenix’s Future
September 07, 2021
A longer light rail system is coming to Phoenix — and it’s coming sooner than expected.
The Northwest Extension Phase II of Valley Metro’s light rail system is currently underway. It’ll connect the system from 19th and Dunlap avenues, extending 1.6 miles to Phoenix’s former Metrocenter Mall area. Originally scheduled to open in 2026, Phase II is now on target for a 2024 completion.
Here’s a closer look at what Phoenix’s light rail users can expect from the extension, and its role in the city’s future.
“This project takes connectivity in the greater Phoenix area a step further,” said Phoenix Mayor and Valley Metro Rail Board Vice Chair Kate Gallego in a news release. “Public transit, particularly light rail, keeps our region vibrant and progressive. It facilitates development and connects residents and future generations to jobs, education and entertainment options.”
The news released also noted that the extension will feature updated landscaping, including more than 200 new trees, as well as seven public art installations.
The city of Phoenix has prioritized public transit development, namely through Transportation 2050, a 35-year multi-modal transportation plan that Phoenix voters approved in 2015. As part of the plan, Phoenix will gain an additional 42 miles of high-capacity light rail corridors. (The city currently has a 20-mile light rail line.)
Local construction companies play a vital role in this development. Northwest Extension Phase II, for example, has already utilized more than 300 construction workers. Build Your Future Arizona investors SSC Underground and McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. have employees on site carrying out that work for Phase II.
Currently, the light rail line ends at 19th Avenue and Dunlap Avenue. Phase II will continue this line westward along Dunlap, then north onto 25th Avenue, and west onto Mountain View Road. From there, it will cross the I-17 Freeway via a bridge, ending at the former Metrocenter Mall.
Phoenix’s light rail expansion is getting national attention. In May of this year, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg included the Phoenix project among 25 public transit projects nationwide recommended to receive part of $2.5 billion in funding. Northwest Extension Phase II was specifically recommended to receive an additional $58.12 million.
“Across the country, communities are seeking to expand public transit as a way to create economic opportunity, improve safety, advance equity, reduce congestion and pollution, and lower the cost of living for their residents,” Buttigieg said in a news release.
A Stronger Community
Valley Metro’s Quality of Life report estimated that Phoenix’s light rail corridor has brought an additional $14 billion in public- and private-sector development.
“But there’s more to light rail than just economics and serving the upwardly mobile. Light rail is a great social equalizer,” developer Lorenzo Perez wrote for AZ Central. “And when done in tandem with impactful redevelopment, it can serve as the connective tissue for a community. It creates opportunity for people with limited mobility, disabilities or low incomes. It connects kids to school, parents to work and people of all socioeconomic backgrounds to their daily errands, entertainment and all of life’s demands.”
And, of course, none of this light rail expansion can happen without a skilled craft workforce to build it. In Arizona alone, more than 260,00 skilled crafts jobs will become available through 2024. To learn more about careers in Arizona-based construction, visit our Career Center — Arizona’s top construction companies regularly post job openings here. We believe in building a better Arizona, and that starts with a thriving community of skilled craft workers.