Quicker commute between Phoenix and Tucson could be around the corner

PHOENIX - If you frequently travel along Interstate 10 between Phoenix and Tucson, a quicker commute could be around the corner.

For decades, the Arizona Department of Transportation has been talking about a high capacity transportation connection between the state's two metropolitan areas. Now those talks are on the fast track.

"I would like to see it used for commuting back and forth between Tucson and Phoenix," said Carl Shumway.

He and his wife Shirley live in Tucson and are huge Diamondbacks fans. But they rarely get up to see their favorite team because of the long drive along I-10. "Especially for the elderly that just want to go up and don't want to worry about driving," said Shirley Shumway.

Earlier this year, ADOT launched a study to see whether building a new, double-tracked intercity passenger line between the cities is feasible and effective. Now it's hosting a series of open houses to get your input on the potential impacts of a rail link.

ADOT estimates the infrastructure costs of a state rail plan at roughly $15 million dollars per mile.

"Funding is definitely a challenge in all of this," said ADOT Spokesperson Laura Douglas. She said ADOT is putting you in the driver's seat asking for your input.

"Do they like the concept of rail? What kind of rail? Do they like other options? It could be a transit option or it could even be a no build option if we find that there isn't enough support," Douglas explained.

ADOT, along with the Federal Railroad Administration and Federal Transit Administrations, will use the study to define a potential corridor for this new form of transportation through one of the most heavily traveled regions of our state.

"If you look at Europe and Asia they're high speed rail is a huge attraction that's why people go to Europe," said motorist Galen Taylor.

Four open houses will be held in Maricopa County beginning on October 11. Eight additional open houses are being held in Pima and Pinal counties.

All it takes is three simple steps to participate in ADOT's intercity rail study: watch a video, read a booklet and take a survey at one of the open houses or online .

The Maricopa County open house schedule is as follows:

October 11, 3 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Burton Barr Library Auditorium
1221 N. Central Ave. in Phoenix

October 12, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Arizona State University Campus Mall
1151 S. Forest Avenue in Tempe

October 24, 3 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Chandler Downtown Library Copper Room
22 S. Delaware Street in Chandler

November 1, 3 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Mesa Main Library Saguaro Room
64 E. First Street in Mesa

The schedule of all meeting times and locations is available online or by calling toll-free 855.250.7245.

If you can't attend one of the open houses, you can participate online or via email .

You can also view a brief video, read the project booklet and take a short survey on the website.

There are also free "Do it Yourself Participation Kits" with information and a DVD about the study. You can order one online .

All comments must be received by November 14.

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