Funds Pledged for Light Rail; Paving Projects Approved

Sat January 22, 2005 - West Edition

MESA, AZ (AP) The Federal Transit Administration has pledged $587.2 million in grant money for construction of the Phoenix-to-Mesa light rail system.

The funds represent 42 percent of the roughly $1.3 billion project.

The grant is expected to be approved by federal transportation officials in January.

The pending grant agreement is the third big boost for rail in the past month.

Light rail came under attack in the campaign for Proposition 400, but voters on Nov. 2 easily approved the regional transportation plan that includes adding 27 mi. of rail to the starter segment.

Also, Congress approved $75 million for the project in a spending bill it approved Nov. 20.

The light-rail system is set to open in late 2008.

Rubberized Paving Planned

An additional 23 mi. of area roads will soon be quieter.

Under a $7.3 million contract awarded by the State Transportation Board to Meadow Valley Contractors of Phoenix, rubberized asphalt is set to be added to various highways starting next spring.

Before pouring the rubberized asphalt, crews will make repairs to the existing concrete and replace deck joints.

More Widening

Projects on Tap for U.S. 60

Some $85 million in improvements will begin next fall on U.S. 60 to help ease freeway congestion in Mesa, Gilbert and Pinal County.

Matt Burdick, a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Transportation, said the nearly six mi. of improvements will result in five general-purpose lanes, one high-occupancy vehicle lane, a dotted merge lane, rubberized asphalt, berms and noise walls.

Meanwhile, construction continues on the SuperRedTan interchange that will eventually link U.S. 60 and Loop 202 when the eight-ramp stack is finished in 2007.

That widening project is costing $110 million.

In all, nearly $200 million worth of work will take place over about 10 mi. of freeway, with hopes of wrapping up those projects by fall 2007, Burdick said.

By 2021, average weekday traffic volumes along various sections of U.S. 60 will increase by more than 80,000 vehicles, according to data from the Maricopa Association of Governments.

The increased traffic volumes coincide with projections showing Maricopa County growing to more than 5 million people in 2025.