All aboard: ADOT makes final call for rail plan comments
This week is the final opportunity to comment on an ADOT study about the feasibility of a passenger rail line or express bus service between Phoenix and Tucson.
The Arizona Department of Transportation is calling for feedback on seven alternatives as part of the Passenger Rail Corridor Study. Six potential rail alternatives or an express bus service could link the metropolitan areas.
Each of the possibilities include hubs located near the cities' downtowns, with extensions that would link to the west Phoenix metro area and Tucson International Airport.
The Tucson Airport Authority Board of Directors, concerned that none of the options includes an airport stop in the first phase, adopted a resolution last week urging ADOT to fast-track a spur to TIA.
The resolution said leaving TIA out of the first phase will have "numerous unintended and adverse impacts on the economy and quality of life in Southern Arizona, creating an enormous competitive disadvantage for TIA, severely reducing cargo and commercial air service in the region, and resulting in diminished growth and development opportunities.”
Phoenix's Sky Harbor International Airport is already building a new station connecting to Metro light rail via a driverless train. The station is due to open in early 2013.
The Arizona PIRG Education Fund, a lobbying group, said ADOT should move forward with the rail plans.
AzPIRG said ADOT should:
“Right now Arizonans have a key opportunity to tell ADOT how much we need passenger rail connecting Arizona’s largest cities,” said AzPIRG spokeswoman Serena Unrein. “With the Sun Corridor population expected to more than double by 2050, the debate isn’t about whether Arizona needs to build more transportation infrastructure, but about what kind of infrastructure makes the most sense for our future.”
According to a poll released by The Morrison Institute for Public Policy in October more than half of Arizonans would be likely to use a high-speed train between the Phoenix and Tucson metropolitan areas at least two or three times per year.
ADOT will use technical analysis and public feedback to narrow the seven alternatives down to two or three in early 2013. They are expected to make a final decision on a preferred option when the study ends in late 2013.
The public comment period ends Dec. 15.
The survey and the complete list of outreach events can be found at www.azdot.gov/passengerrail.
Cronkite News Service’s Corbin Caron contributed to this article.