The US city of Phoenix has been allocated $36m in stimulus funds to supplement dwindling local resources for the Central Phoenix/East Valley light-rail project.

The US Department of Transportation announced the funding supplements, which have declined during the economic downturn, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).

The funds will help complete the rail line and allow Valley Metro to begin work on the extension project. Funds will be used for signal work, communications, an operations control centre, and further testing of two light rail cars to be put into service.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that the funds will help other important transit projects move forward, while also stimulating the local economy.

The Federal Transit Administration signed a full funding grant agreement for the light railway in 2005 to provide $587m, or 42%, of the $1.4bn, 19.6-mile project, to be paid out over six years. Today’s allotment amounts to an advance of a portion of the project’s 2010 payout amount.

The light rail route serves the Sky Harbor Airport, Arizona State University, Papago Park Center, the Phoenix Convention Center, Chase Field, US Airways Arena and Sun Devil Stadium. Valley Metro Rail expects to carry almost 50,000 riders each weekday by the year 2020.