$75M in federal funding pledged Friday for Mesa light rail extension

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has unveiled $75 million in federal funding to help build a three-mile light rail extension connecting Phoenix and Tempe to Mesa.

LaHood took part Friday in a grant signing ceremony in Mesa and said the light rail extension helps fast-growing cities in Arizona.

The new Central Mesa Extension, operated by Valley Metro Rail, will run from Sycamore to Mesa Drive on Main Street and connect residents in the downtown hubs of Phoenix, Mesa, and Tempe. Officials say it's expected to spur residential and commercial development in downtown Mesa while providing access to Arizona State University and Sky Harbor International Airport.

In the last six months, ridership on Valley Metro light rail has risen 6.2 percent on average, compared with the same period in 2011.


Photo: A sign in downtown Mesa near Center and Main Streets, showing where the future light rail will run, shown Thursday, June 14, 2012. [Tim Hacker/ Tribune]