Valley Metro updates and shows first look at multi-million expansion

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Posted at 6:01 PM, Dec 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-08 21:06:39-05

PHOENIX — The light rail system has been serving the Phoenix area for 13 years.

On Wednesday, Valley Metro took groups behind the scenes, showing off the multi-million dollar expansion of its rail Operations and Maintenance Center (OMC).

Originally built back in 2007, the OMC was first designed to store 50 light rail vehicles and manage 20 miles of line.

The new expansion will increase that capacity to 90 vehicles and 66 miles of line.

CEO of Valley Metro, Scott Smith, spoke about the bigger picture.

"Our one basic goal is to connect communities and enhance lives and this is part of that process," Smith said, speaking to a group of about 50 media members and staff.

The solar run expansion facility features new service pits, parts and storage areas, large overhead cranes, and a new air conditioning system to increase comfort for its 200 daily workers.

The $92 million expansion was paid for from Prop 400 funds, the half-cent sales tax passed by Maricopa County voters back in 2004.

Smith says they'll be approaching voters again before it expires in 2025.

"We will be considering as a region in the next months and years an extension of that tax," Smith said.

"So we want to make sure that it's on your mind to recognize that investments in transportation especially light rail transportation does make a difference, and your taxes, if you're a voter in Maricopa County, you do make a difference."

The expansion makes it possible for exciting projects like the new Tempe streetcar set to hit the road in the spring of 2022.

"We're really excited about the Tempe streetcar," said Deputy Director of Maintenance, Rob Rosenberg.

"It's designed to run [along] traffic with other vehicles," he said.

The streetcar is equipped with the latest technology eliminating the need for overhead wires.

"It's got big batteries on board to operate even if there's no wire overhead," Rosenberg said.

Also new is a Siemens light rail vehicle also updated with the very latest in technology and safety.

Rosenberg touted the OMC expansion as the very heart of the light rail system, ultimately connecting communities and creating new jobs.