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23 December 2015

Central Mesa Light Rail Extension, Phoenix, Arizona

The Central Mesa light railway is located in Phoenix, the capital city of Arizona, US. Construction work on extending the 3.1mi (5km) line travelling through downtown Mesa to Mesa Drive began in June 2012.
Construction on the Central Mesa rail extension project was completed by 2015. Image courtesy of Valley Metro.
In August 2010, the Central Mesa extension project entered into its design phase with the approval of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). Image courtesy of Valley Metro.
Valley Metro is the operator of the Central Mesa light rail. Image courtesy of Valley Metro.

Central Mesa railway

The Central Mesa light railway is located in Phoenix, the capital city of Arizona, US. Construction work on extending the 3.1mi (5km) line travelling through downtown Mesa to Mesa Drive began in June 2012.

It provides benefits for the East Valley residents by connecting them to the regional transit system, as well as also providing growth opportunities in downtown Mesa.

The extension was completed in August 2015. Valley Metro Rail is the developer and operator of the line.

Areas served by the Central Mesa line and FTA approval

"The extension line runs eastwards from the current end-of-line through downtown Mesa on Main Street to Mesa Drive."

The 20-mile (32km) light rail line was first opened in December 2008. It served about 13.2 million riders in 2011.

Valley Metro has proposed six new extensions to be completed by 2031.

Planning approval for the 3.1mi light rail extension in central Mesa on Main Street, from Sycamore to Mesa Drive, was approved in 2009.

The project also includes construction of four light rail stations at locations including Alma School Road, Country Club Drive, Center Street and Mesa Drive, as well as accompanying park-and-ride facilities.

The Central Mesa extension project entered into design stage in August 2010, following approval of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).

Valley Metro also completed an environmental assessment for the project and received a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) from the FTA.

The extension line runs eastwards from the current end-of-line, through downtown Mesa on Main Street to Mesa Drive.

Construction phases and expected completion for the light railway

Construction on the extension began in June 2012, and was carried out in a phased manner.

"Valley Metro has proposed six new extensions to be completed by 2031."

Overhead and underground utilities were relocated in the initial construction phase, and the existing grading and roadway were demolished. Construction of new traffic lanes, gutters, sidewalks and lighting works was also carried out.

Installation of new traffic signals was completed during the initial phase of construction. Utility relocation work was completed between 2012 and 2013.

In the next phase of construction between 2013 and 2015, system and station finishes were completed. The phase also involved installation of overhead power lines, fare vending machines and signal and communication systems.


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The second phase also included integration of station architecture and art work, construction of park-and-ride facilities and traction power substations, along with landscaping works.

The final phase of construction saw the completion of station platform and track installation works. This also involved installation of major light rail infrastructure.

Temporary traffic measures were in place during this phase, as construction was primarily carried out in the middle of the road. This phase of construction began in 2013 and was completed by 2015.

Testing on the newly constructed line was completed in mid-2015 and the line began operations in August 2015, seven months ahead of the original schedule date.

Contractors involved with Phoenix’s rail line extension project

A joint venture between Kiewit and Mass Electric known as Valley Transit Constructors (VTC) was awarded a design-build contract for the 3.1mi Central Mesa light rail extension in March 2012.

Parsons Transportation Group acted as the lead designer for the project, and is also part of the VTC.

Jacobs Engineering Group was awarded with a $12.5m engineering services contract in August 2010. The firm provided both preliminary and final engineering services for the extension project.

Financing Valley Metro Rail’s Arizona-based transport system

The total cost of the line extension project is $200m, of which approximately $125m was funded by county-wide transportation tax funds and federal air quality funds.

The Federal Transit Administration also provided a $75m grant for the project.

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