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Light rail measure remains on ballot after high court ruling

Posted at 11:07 AM, Jul 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-24 20:14:04-04

PHOENIX — A voter initiative that seeks to halt any additional expansion of the Phoenix light rail system will remain on next month's special election ballot under a decision Wednesday by the Arizona Supreme Court.

In its opinion, the high court rejected a contractor group's argument that the measure should be kept off the ballot because people were paid to collect signatures for petitions to put the measure before voters.

The court said a state prohibition on paying collectors by the signature applies only to statewide ballot measures, not local ones.

The justices also rejected arguments by the Arizona chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America that the initiative description's wording was flawed.

Supporters of the city's light rail system had hoped to keep the initiative off the ballot.

If voters approve the measure during a special city election Aug. 27, any planned rail extensions will be stopped and any funds set aside will go to other transportation projects.

The effort to put the measure before voters was launched by a group called Building a Better Phoenix, which was involved in last year's fight against plans to extend the rail system into south Phoenix.

That proposal was later approved by the City Council and requires that the four-lane roadway down Central Avenue be narrowed to just two lanes, one in each direction.

Now stretching 26.3 miles (42 kilometers), construction of the Valley Metro light rail system began in March 2005 and operation started in December 2008.