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On Track for More Mesa Light Rail

A woman gets off the eastbound light rail station along Main Street and Center Street in downtown Mesa. Credit: David Wallace/The Arizona Republic

By Maria Polletta for The Arizona Republic

Preliminary construction work on the next leg of Mesa’s light rail line could begin as soon as August, according to city transportation officials.

Engineers are expected to have a detailed design for the $153M, 1.9-mile addition — which would extend tracks east along Main Street from Mesa Drive to Gilbert Road — nearly finished by July. The extension would add two stations and a park-and-ride to the line.

“From this point forward, activity in that corridor is really going to start ramping up,” said Jodi Sorrell, Mesa’s transit-services director.

Workers have started identifying utility lines for possible relocation, she said, and later this summer, “they’ll be moving street lights, demolishing medians, relocating manholes, doing sewer-line work and everything that sets the stage for rail construction.”

Transportation officials are meeting with residents and business owners to collect feedback that could further shape design plans. According to Valley Metro, the extension could boost rail ridership by 4,000 people a day when it’s operational, likely in late summer or fall 2018.

Mesa’s last rail extension, which took the tracks through the city’s emerging downtown, opened seven months ahead of schedule and has generated more than $90M in private investment along and near the route.

Officials believe continuing to Gilbert Road makes sense, given the thoroughfare’s history as Mesa’s symbolic east-west dividing line and its status as a major traffic corridor.

What will the extension look like?

Under the layout approved by the Mesa City Council, Main Street largely will be limited to one lane in each direction. It will widen to two lanes in each direction at Stapley Drive and Gilbert Road, with gated roundabouts installed at Harris Drive and Horne.

The first station will be at Stapley, east of the intersection, followed by another at Gilbert, west of the intersection. The park-and-ride and transit center will be on the southwestern corner of Main and Gilbert.

Valley Metro’s Regional Rail Arts Committee selected station and park-and-ride designs conceived by area artists, as it did with the Central-Mesa rail extension.

Read more at The Arizona Republic

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