South Phoenix business owners want city to reconsider light rail extension

Posted at 5:09 PM, Mar 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-30 21:01:45-04

South Phoenix business owners are urging the city to reconsider a six-mile light rail extension. 

"We are like a family, we don't want to lose our businesses," said Celia Contreras, owner of Tony's Window Tinting on Central Avenue near Broadway Road. 

Crews are set to begin construction on the route, from downtown Phoenix to Baseline Road, next spring and have trains running by 2021.

The current plan will remove two middle lanes on Central Avenue to make way for the tracks, cutting the road down to one lane in each direction. Contreras, behind an effort she calls "Four Lanes or No Train," fears potential traffic congestion during and after construction will destroy her shop. 

"With one lane, we can not survive," she said. 

Still, Valley Metro officials said the plan in place preserves more than the alternative.

“To have four lanes and a light rail we would be impacting more than 80 properties and businesses along Central Avenue," said communications director Hillary Foose. 

"That would really change the landscape in south Phoenix and change the culture,” she said, adding engineers found that with dedicated left turn lanes they can maintain current traffic. 

Valley Metro estimates at least 5,000 people will use the route on a daily basis.

Beginning this fall, outreach staff members will meet with affected business owners to develop marketing, signage and entrance plans to minimize impact during construction.