By Patrick McNamara for Arizona Daily Star
Intercity rail service between Tucson and Phoenix has long been a topic of discussion in the state.
The Arizona Department of Transportation has studied the idea for years, which resulted in a final report a few years back on the possibility of a commuter rail system connecting the state’s two largest cities. That was followed by a series of route alternatives showing where a future rail line might lie.
It’s an ambitious proposal and not low-cost, either.
Carlos Lopez, rail planning program manager at ADOT, said early estimates for the plan range from $4B to $10B.
Lopez plans to present a review of the plan at Advancing Women in Transportation’s Tucson Chapter informational session March 12 at the Tucson Convention Center.
At this point, ADOT has submitted preliminary draft environmental assessments to the Federal Railroad Administration and Federal Transportation Administration for approval. That draft report should be completed by the spring or summer.
The federal government is one of the possible funding sources of the rail project, so it would have final approval on the plan. But state funding also would be needed, Lopez said, because federal grants would require a 50 percent match.
Other options to build and operate the rail line include a public-private agreement of some sort, Lopez said.
Future feasibility studies are planned that would estimate ridership figures and costs to operate the system.
Lopez said even if the state had funding in hand today, it would take eight to 10 years to complete construction.
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