The Phoenix City Council was a buzz on Tuesday as a comprehensive public transit plan was the topic of discussion. The proposal from the Citizens Committee of the Future of Phoenix Transportation includes infrastructure updates/reparis, an expansion of Metro Light Rail and additional funding to Police and Fire.
According to an AZ Central article the proposed plan includes up to 117 miles of new high-capacity transit like light rail, bus rapid transit or streetcars. About $2.4 billion would help maintain major city streets while adding new bicycle lanes and street lights. The plan would also fund maintenance of current services, new bus lines and infrastructure improvements.
It was a heated debate with many for the project and other against. The debate centered around the .7% transportation tax that would replace the current .4% tax. Below are some of the comments brought up at the meeting.
- Mayor Greg Stanton: Mayor: Called the decision one of the most important of his term, describing the impact of transit on economic development and the lives of residents.
- Committee Member Andy Federhar: The availability of transit is a major economic factor, it’s critical we add new stops, Transit expansion is about growth, not congestion. Every dollar communities invest in public transit, they get four back.
- Councilman Claude Maddox: You don’t let your house go after you buy it, you maintain it,” he said. “In the next 30-50 years, our population is going to double, we need to put in the infrastructure, and we need to let the people decide.”
- Councilman Daniel Valenzuela: This means street repair, this means filling pot holes, lighting. It also means building streets, maybe even bridges, getting the light rail to places like Metro Center, to GCU. This is probably the most important vote that I’ve come across on this council, and I fully support it.
- Councilwoman Kate Gallego: Even those who don’t use the light rail should see it as an economic engine.We really do need all kinds of options for all kinds of residents.
- Vice Mayor Jim Waring: Wouldn’t more lanes on the freeway move more people for less money.Let’s let the tax payers recover from the recession, we can take a closer look at this and come back to it.
- Becky Fenger, chair of No Tax For More Track: She cited a 2011 Valley Metro report, which reported that the light rail hasn’t significantly improved traffic or air quality.
- Councilman Sal DiCiccio: He is against the transportation tax and thinks it will take away dollars from education. It’s a strange argument though since education is a State budget item and this is a city budget topic.
There were speakers from throughout the Valley and the majority favors the proposal. Most reasonable people know our population is expected to double in the coming decades and managing transportation is a critical issue that needs to be address sooner than later.
The Council approved the plan on a 6-3 vote. Now the voters get to decide. Perhaps they will like they did when the transportation was put to a vote last time. The vote is expected to take place in August 2015.
The Urban Team
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