By Roland Murphy for Arizona Builder’s Exchange
The City of Phoenix has released its first progress report detailing plans launched and goals met during the Transportation 2050 initiative’s first 18 months of operation.
T2050 was approved by voters in August, 2015 to fund aggressive expansion for the city’s long-term transportation goals. The city sales tax component of the program is expected to generate roughly $16.7B over its 35-year course, half of the total expected budget for all the targeted projects. Federal and regional funding, combined with passenger fares, are targeted to bring in another $14.8B. According to the report, 86 percent of the program monies are dedicated to public transit, with the remainder targeted on existing street-related funding.
T2050 highlights seven major areas of focus:
- New and expanded bus and Dial-a-Ride
- Mobility and accessibility
- Transit infrastructure
- High capacity transit
- Technology enhancements
- Pavement maintenance, and
- New and expanded major streets
The program launched in Fiscal Year 2016 with a budget of $186M, increasing to $466M for FY 2017. Initial revenues for 2016-17 cycle fell short of estimates to the tune of $84.5M, due to lower than anticipated fare volume, federal transit funds and regional transportation tax revenues.
Fund use, however, came in under budget. During the period $220.7M was budgeted for transit operations. $195.1M was actually spent. Debt service came in at $42.6K lower than the budgeted goal, and of the $184.6M budgeted for capital projects, $125.7M was spent.
The funding implementation plan for the next five years breaks down as follows:
- FY 2018: $410M
- FY 2019: $389M
- FY 2020: $367M
- FY 2021: $337M
- FY 2022: #324M
Bus and Dial-a-Ride Highlights
Service expansion was a major initial goal for T2050, and transportation officials wasted no time in implementing enhancements. Service hours for bus and Dial-a-Ride were extended to match light rail. Forty-seven more Dial-a-Ride vehicles were deployed, as were 153 additional buses.
Other completed improvements include regional Dial-a-Ride implementation to eliminate transfers, the installation of five new bus bays and the implementation of 31 new bus shelter shade structures.
For 2018, plans include 55 new buses, 30 new Dial-a-Ride vehicles, installation of 40 new bus stops and shade structures for 80 bus stops. Four bus routes will also be extended.
Between 2019 and 2022, a new fare collection system will be implemented, 56 bus stops built, new shade structures for 400 stops installed, 100 Dial-a-Ride vehicles and 195 new buses added.
High Capacity Transit
High capacity transit, long the belle of the transportation ball, also earned a lengthy list of accomplishments in the program’s first 18 months. A sampling of some of the highlights include:
- Accelerating the completion timeline of the South Central light rail line by more than 10 years
- Completion and opening of the light rail Northwest Phase I
- Environmental study and preliminary engineering for Northwest Phase II
- 50th Street station construction start
In 2018, the high capacity plan calls for the final design and pre-construction for South Central and Northwest Phase II, preliminary planning for the light rail Northeast Corridor and the bus rapid transit system, as well as environmental study and pre-construction activities for the Capital/I-10 light rail extension, among others.
Between 2019 and 2022, the extensions will be constructed for South Central, Northwest Phase II and Capitol/I-10 West Phases I and II. The 50th Street Station will be finished and opened, and planning will be conducted for bus rapid transit.
Last, but not least, streets have gotten a lot of attention in the last year-and-a-half, and they will be getting a lot more over the next five.
Street improvements since January, 2016 include:
- Pre-design completion for 18 major street corridors
- 640 lighted street sign replacements
- 19 new or expanded street projects planned, totaling $57M
- 161 miles of new pavement and 395 miles of pavement treatment
For 2018, 10 road and bridge projects will initiate design, 31 miles of bicycle lanes will be installed, and 2,360 lighted street signs will be replaced.
During the 2019-2022 cycle, nine road and bridge projects will be developed, 10 road and bridge projects will initiate design, 124 miles of bike lanes will be installed, along with 16 miles of new sidewalks and 240 new street lights.
Investment in Infrastructure is Investment in the Future
Not surprising, officials involved with T2050 and quoted in the report were effusive in their praise. Councilwoman Thelda Williams, Transportation and Infrastructure Chair, perhaps best captured the overall tone when she said, “When voters approved Transportation 2050, they approved expanded investment in Phoenix’s infrastructure for the next 35 years. Street improvements, expanded bus service, improved Dial-a-Ride, and light rail construction with South Central and Northwest extensions are priorities in the plan that residents overwhelmingly supported. With T2050, expanding our transportation service is more than delivering on a plan, it’s preparing for the future as we position Phoenix for decades of economic growth.”