Phoenix Voters to Decide on Major Public Transit and Street Upgrades

The Phoenix City Council yesterday approved a major plan for expanding public transportation -- including huge Light Rail extensions -- and upgrading city streets.

The transportation plan is estimated to cost $33 billion over the next 35 years, and would be partially funded through a sales tax increase of 0.3 (zero point three) percent. Phoenix voters will have the final say on approving the plan in August.

"Great cities need great transportation and an evolving Phoenix needs to adapt with the times," Mayor Greg Stanton says in a statement. "A robust public transit system and well-maintained roads are vital to building and growing our economy for the future."

See also: -Arizonans Driving Less, and Using Public Transportation at Higher Rates

Phoenix voters in 2000 approved a 0.4 percent sales tax for transportation, which helped fund the Light Rail system. If voters approve the plan in August, the dedicated sales tax for public transit would reach a total of 0.7 percent.

The city council passed the proposal on a 6-3 vote last night, with dissent from the more conservative members of the council, most notably Councilman Sal DiCiccio, who's already calling the plan a "boondoggle."

The comprehensive plan includes proposals for extending Light Rail, expanding bus service, and improving or repairing city streets. The number of miles of Light Rail routes is proposed to triple by 2050 under this plan.

The plan is a result of a citizens' committee convened by Mayor Stanton, although it was slightly modified by the council yesterday.

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Follow Valley Fever on Twitter at @ValleyFeverPHX. Follow Matthew Hendley at @MatthewHendley.

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