Valley Metro has staffers who help businesses affected by construction with things like marketing and connecting them to resources such as web design
- Valley Metro executives are considering five routes that would link the West Valley to Phoenix near 19th Avenue and Montebello, the light rail’s most western spot
- The 20-miles of current light rail track, which has cost about $1.4 billion, has generated $7 billion in economic development investments around the light rail
- Martinez said he’d heard from businesses owners that the rail could “destroy the downtown”
Valley Metro leaders at a meeting last week got a taste of the opposition they could face from some business interests in choosing a route for a connection from downtown Glendale to Phoenix.
Vice Mayor Yvonne Knaack, who operates a downtown business, and Councilman Manny Martinez said business leaders along Glendale Avenue feared construction from the proposed project would hamper their sales.
Knaack said she doesn’t think downtown Glendale had the room for a light-rail system, and that alterations would leave businesses too close to the street.
And Martinez said he’d heard from some businesses owners that the rail could “destroy the downtown.”
Those comments came at a Glendale City Council meeting at which Valley Metro officials updated the council on its study process for selecting a route and transportation mode to connect Glendale.
Other members on the council — Councilmen Gary Sherwood and Sam Chavira — heralded the project as an economic driver, even though it may cause temporary pain.
READ MORE: Downtown Glendale to connect to light rail
“There’s no getting around it. There’s disruption to their businesses for that period of time for two or three years when the construction is going on,” Sherwood said. “But it truly does become a benefit afterward.”
The Glendale City Council will have to approve a route for construction of the connection, which could come in various modes, in a vote in the spring of 2015.
Knaack and Martinez won’t be on the council then because they are not seeking re-election, but Sherwood and Chavira will be. Valley Metro officials stressed the economic benefits of the public transportation in comments to the council.
The 20 miles of current light-rail track, which has cost about $1.4 billion, has generated $7 billion in economic development investments around the light rail, said Stephen Banta, CEO of Valley Metro.
Valley Metro executives are considering five routes that would link the West Valley to Phoenix on 19th Avenue, the light rail’s most western spot.
A Valley Metro survey of 200 people found that the preferred routes were along Glendale Avenue or Camelback Road. Other options include Bethany Home Road and Grand Avenue, said Ben Limmer, a planning manager at Valley Metro.
The agency plans to survey all area businesses once it narrows its route options. Knaack, who operates a State Farm Insurance agency on Glendale Avenue downtown, argued they should survey the businesses first.
“I would sure hate to have something happen to my building,” she said.
A combination of federal funding and transit-tax revenue from Maricopa County, Phoenix and Glendale will cover the estimated $550 million construction cost of project, but the cities must pay operations costs once the system is running.
Construction would begin in 2023 and finish by 2026, linking downtown Glendale to Phoenix at 19th Avenue either by a rapid bus, streetcar or light rail. Valley Metro will host more public meetings and analyze the best modes and routes before bringing a recommendation to the council.
Limmer said the route that would travel Camelback Road to 43rd Avenue to Glendale Avenue provides the most employment, population and activity but it is the longest option. Grand Avenue is automobile-oriented and is somewhat incompatible for high-capacity transit because it does not host the ideal volume of multi-family residential areas, open spaces for potential new development and hotels, he said.
Valley Metro will host two upcoming, identical informational meetings for the public.
The first, at Glendale Council Chambers, will run from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, May 22. The second, at Grand Canyon University’s CAS Building No. 6, Rooms 139 and 140, will run from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 28.
• West along Camelback Road, then northwest along Grand Avenue.
• West along Camelback Road, then north along 43rd Avenue, then west along Glendale Avenue.
• West along Bethany Home Road, then northwest along Grand Avenue.
• West along Bethany Home Road, then north along 43rd Avenue, then west along Glendale Avenue.
• Straight west along Glendale Avenue.