By Roland Murphy for Arizona Builder’s Exchange
Voters head to the polls today to decide Prop 104, a decision which will influence the Valley’s light rail and transportation future.
If approved, Prop 104 would maintain the city’s 0.4-cent sales tax, in place since 2000, and add another 0.3. The 35-year 0.7-cent tax is projected to generate $31.5B, which is earmarked for multiple transportation expansion efforts, including light rail, bus service, road development and maintenance, and other projects.
Major Focus on Light Rail
Adding to the originally-approved 20 miles of light rail service, Prop 104 would provide for more than 40 miles of extensions, reaching as far as Central and Baseline in the south, 79th Avenue and I-10 in the southwest, the ASU West campus in the northwest, and Paradise Valley Mall in the northeast.
Since 2005, more than 200 private ($6B) and public ($2.2B) development projects have been undertaken within half a mile of light rail (AZBEX, July 31).
Original estimates predicted up to $7B in investment in the first 10 years. Ridership has also exceeded initial expectations. Planning estimates originally estimated ridership would be 26K per day. Actual ridership tops 45K daily according to Valley Metro.
MovePHX, the committee leading Prop 104 support, estimates an additional $40B in economic development over the measure’s term if passed.
New Mesa Extension Opens
Valley government and business leaders, along with an array of residents and light rail supporters, celebrated the opening of the latest light rail extension, 3.1 miles of service on Main Street in Mesa between Sycamore and Mesa drives on Aug. 22.
Two additional miles of light rail are planned for the east Valley, with service expected to reach Gilbert Road in 2018.
Light Rail Not Alone In Benefits
In addition to trebling the number of light rail miles available to serve residents, virtually every other aspect of transportation in Phoenix would receive investment and development under Prop 104.