By Tasha Anderson for AZBEX
On Wednesday, Phoenix city council voted to indefinitely suspend – and most likely kill – development of a light rail route planned along Camelback Road between 19th and 43rd avenues in West Phoenix.
The vote was in response to a citizen petition submitted by Phoenix resident and former councilwoman, Peggy Neely on March 6, requesting councilmembers to “enact within 15 days, a resolution, ordinance or measure that terminates or indefinitely suspends any development or construction of, or the expenditure of public funds (originating from any source) in connection with, any light rail transit route along Camelback Road at any point between 19th Avenue and 43rd Avenue.”
Council voted 5-3 to approve the request.
The West Phoenix light rail extension was first introduced as a joint project between the City of Phoenix and the City of Glendale that proposed a transit route extending along Camelback Road between 19th and 43rd avenues, all the way to downtown Glendale. The Glendale portion was approved by voters in 2001, the Phoenix portion in 2015. The light rail was slated to open in 2026.
In 2017 however, the City of Glendale formally withdrew their portion of the plan, leaving only the City of Phoenix portion of the light rail, where it stops at 43rd Avenue and Camelback Road.
According to the agenda, the city council considered options to delay both the West Phoenix Light Rail Extension and the Northeast Light Rail Extension, a route that would extend from downtown Phoenix to Paradise Valley Mall scheduled to open in 2036, back in October 2018; however, the motion approved only the delay of the Northeast Extension.
‘A Futile Train to Nowhere’
Neely’s petition argues that the West Phoenix light rail is incomplete without Glendale’s portion of the project and notes that, “taxpayers are at risk of watching millions of their dollars squandered on a futile ‘train to nowhere’.”
The council report does note that staff recommends conducting a future discussion to further evaluate the long-term transportation plans and needs of the area.
According to an article published on March 20 by The Arizona Republic, the City of Phoenix is proposing to use the money freed up by the delay to fund street repairs.