Gilbert Road Light Rail Extension Project, Mesa, Arizona, United States of America

Gilbert Road, Mesa, AZ

The Gilbert Road light rail extension project is a 1.9-mile (3.05km) extension of the Gilbert Road light railway in Mesa, Arizona, US.

The proposed project will extend the light rail from the Central Mesa Extension (CME) project east at Edgemont to the intersection of Main Street and Gilbert Road. It is expected to redevelop the streets from Mesa Drive to Gilbert Road, as well as improve transit access for the residents of the region.

The regional public transportation authority, Valley Metro, and the City of Mesa broke ground on construction of the $152.7m project on 15 October 2016.

The extension is expected to be completed by late-2018.

Gilbert Road light rail extension project background

The primary mode of transportation between the City of Mesa and the East Valley region has mainly been private automobiles. Economic development and population growth in the region have resulted in traffic congestion, especially during peak times.

"It is expected to redevelop the streets from Mesa Drive to Gilbert Road, as well as improve transit access for the residents of the region."

The City of Mesa Council recognised light rail travel as a means to provide an efficient transit service for the growing regional population. The council recommended an extension of the Gilbert Road light railway from Main Street to Gilbert Road and also approved the funding for analysis of the extension.

By linking Central Mesa and East Valley regions, the council aims to improve local and regional mobility during peak times and also maximise the economic development in the region.

The environmental assessment for the project was completed in November 2013 and a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) from the US Federal Transit Administration (FTA) was also received. With the approval from FTA, Valley Metro began the preliminary designing and engineering phase of the project in 2014.

Details of the extension project

The extension project involves the construction of two additional automobile travel lanes one on each side on the Main Street, while four-way travel lanes will be developed on Stapley Drive and Gilbert Road.

Two new light rail stations, one at Stapley Drive and the other at Gilbert Road, and a park-and-ride centre on the south-west corner of Main Street and Gilbert Road will be constructed. Additionally, two roundabouts, one at the Horne Drive and the other at Harris Drive, will be constructed.

The project also includes construction of an operator's facility, traction power substations, a signalling building and all ancillary equipment to operate trains.

Contractors involved and financing for the Gilbert Road light rail extension

Jacobs Engineering Group was awarded a contract to provide the final design of the project. A joint venture of Stacy and Witbeck, and Sundt was contracted for the pre-construction works.

The City of Mesa will fund 94.3% of the capital cost of the project through the federal Surface Transportation Programme (STP) and Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Programme (CMAQ).

Benefits of the light rail extension project

The extension will provide an important link to the neighbouring regions of downtown Mesa, Tempe and Phoenix. It is expected to help in increasing the ridership in Mesa by 40% and provide better access from the L202 freeway, US 60 highway, and central and east Mesa.

The project also facilitates local riders with cost-effective travel and attracts new riders by providing reliable and time-saving mode of transport. It will create a pedestrian and bicycle-friendly environment in the region.

The roundabouts at the Horne Drive and Harris Drive will reduce the traffic waiting time and provide a smoother flow in the region.

By providing a direct link, the project will improve access to regional jobs and activity centres and business centres in the region. It will also support local businesses and encourage public private partnerships.