Valley Metro in Arizona, US, has received approval from the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) for a $1bn, 11-mile extension of light-rail network from downtown Phoenix to the West Valley.
The extension of the West Phoenix line will run along Washington and Jefferson streets through the state capitol area, to 79th Avenue and the I-10 West freeway.
Metro expects to provide the West Valley with a higher-capacity and efficient transit option with its first freeway corridor project, scheduled to be completed by 2023.
Valley Metro CEO Steve Banta said that the project will help extend the multi-modal Total Transit Network to the West Valley.
"It will help ease congestion on the busy Interstate 10 freeway and provide swift connectivity to jobs, schools, activity centres and entertainment options across the Valley," Banta said.
Valley Metro and the city of Phoenix initiated a study in 2007 to identify potential high-capacity transit improvements for the West Valley.
Over the years, the project team has carried out technical analysis and partnered with the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) to define the route.
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said: "Light rail is key to our city's new economic future; it creates jobs, further connects our community with sustainable transportation options and creates a multitude of new business development opportunities."
Within the freeway, the route will move from the median to the north side at 47th Avenue to help create additional development; after that, the tracks will cross over to the north side of I-10 West freeway.
Phoenix Councilman Michael Nowakowski said that the light rail extension will link West Phoenix destinations, such as the Desert Sky Mall, Ashley Furniture Pavilion and other businesses, to the rest of the Valley.
"It will also offer West Phoenix residents a cost-effective, sustainable transportation option and creates an economic bridge to our city's Westside," Nowakowski said.
Image: The 11-mile extension of the Phoenix light rail network is scheduled to be completed by 2023. Photo: courtesy of Valley Metro.