A group of Phoenix residents and business owners successfully submitted over 40,000 signatures to the city clerk yesterday to refer an initiative to the ballot to end the $1 Billion construction of future light rail projects. The committee held a press conference to mark the momentous achievement.
After the city of Phoenix railroaded citizens of South Phoenix by pushing plans of a light rail extension on Central Ave that would reduce the number of traffic lanes from four to two, a grassroots effort emerged to beat back the disastrous plan.
Since community opposition began to coalesce in April of this year, the group has successfully stormed city hall, held community forums that reached thousands of residents, and stalled the 2-lane project on Central.
Their latest efforts were bolstered by support from residents and business owners throughout the city who would also be negatively affected by the expansion of light rail near them.
Building a Better Phoenix (BBP) put the City, the Federal Transit Administration, and Valley Metro on notice to cease any further funding or construction of light rail projects until the citizens have a chance to vote on the initiative, which will likely be in May or August.
This is a true David and Goliath story as the citizens’ group will likely be outspent 10:1 by the light rail and construction lobby. But facts are on their side. Instead of spending 40 percent of the city’s transportation revenues on light rail which serves less than 1 percent of the population, BBP would divert the money to be used for infrastructure improvements, including roads and bus service, which alleviates congestion.
A lot will ride on the success of the upcoming campaign, especially for South Phoenix who will experience certain gentrification of their neighborhoods, increased crime and homelessness in their community, and inaccessibility of emergency services with the 2-lane configuration.
The City of Phoenix is in desperate need of infrastructure improvements. Their roads are riddled with potholes and many are falling into complete disrepair. Especially in South Phoenix, many bus stops lack proper shading, long stretches of road are without sidewalk, and residents complain of poor lighting. Light rail has long been a rat hole of the taxpayers’ finances while also being ineffective at increasing mobility or convenience to residents. If the BBP initiative passes, money will be able to be diverted to higher priority challenges and more directly serve the citizens and businesses of Phoenix.
We hope the taxpayers of Phoenix will take this golden opportunity to hold city hall accountable and pass this historic initiative.