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Mayor Makes Case for Light Rail Expansion

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton assists with placement of the first track of the Northwest Phoenix light rail extension at a ceremony in July 2014. The extension runs from Mentebello to Dunlap avenues along 19th Avenue and is expected to open in 2016. Photo credit: Valley Metro

By Mike Sunnucks for Phoenix Business Journal

For Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, a proposed $17.5B sales tax measure to extend Valley Metro light rail to South Mountain, the Arizona Capitol, Metrocenter, Grand Canyon University and Arizona State University’s West campus isn’t about some kind of lasting legacy of his tenure at City Hall.

Instead, Stanton said the 34-year tax measure that city voters will decide in August is an economic imperative for Phoenix as it competes with other markets for jobs, business investment and big events.

“It’s smart economic policy,” said Stanton in an interview with the Phoenix Business Journal.

Stanton said the cities Phoenix competes with for creative and high-tech jobs and millennials all have rail and transit systems. Austin, Denver, Seattle, Portland, Salt Lake City and San Diego are among the cities with rail systems.

“If you are going to build a competitive city, great transportation is critical,” said Stanton.

The August measure extends a 0.40-cent city sales tax approved by Phoenix voters in 2000 to 2050 and adds 0.30 cents to that that existing levy.

Another possible extension is to Paradise Valley Mall. Stanton said that potential line and a link to Metrocenter could be key to those shopping mall areas’ redevelopment plans.

Read more at Phoenix Business Journal