New report throws fuel on light rail campaign fire

Valley Metro opened its eastern-most rail station on Gilbert Road in Mesa in May./ 
Special to AFN

Ahwatukee Foothills News

With ballots slated to go out next Wednesday on a Phoenix proposition that could kill light rail’s western expansion, the Arizona Free Enterprise Club has released a study disputing the $11 billion in economic development that supporters attribute to the line.

The report, compiled by the club transportation policy expert Randal O’Toole, seeks to debunk what club Vice President and Gilbert Councilwoman Aimee Yentes calls “the speculative claims made by Valley Metro.”

O’Toole examined 344 projects that Valley Metro attributes to the 11-year-old Light Rail system.

“The report shows that the vast majority of these projects would have happened anyway, happened only because they were subsidized or were government buildings and that the cost of rail construction exceeded any actual economic development created by light rail,” Yentes said.

The blistering report comes as Phoenix voters prepare to cast their ballots on Proposition 105, which would kill the South Phoenix spur and repurpose city funds for street repairs and other infrastructure work.

Ahwatukee voters can mail in their ballots, drop them off during normal business hours at Phoenix City Hall, 200 W. Washington St., 15th Floor from July 31 through Aug. 23 or wait till the Pecos Community Center’s election center is open on the Friday, Saturday and Monday before the Aug. 27 election.

People can request a ballot until Aug. 16 at, pick up a form at Ironwood Library, or call 602-261-8683.

Phoenix and Valley Metro officials say killing the South Phoenix line would prompt the federal government to pull tens of millions of dollars it has committed to the project.

But Enterprise Club President Scot Mussi two weeks ago charged that “rampant cost overruns” already have nearly doubled the total cost for the South Phoenix light rail spur to $1.35 billion – which he calculated at $245 million a mile.


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