Three Possibilities for Phoenix-to-Tucson Passenger Rail Line to Be Studied

The plans for a passenger rail line between Phoenix and Tucson are crawling at a snail's pace.

However, state transportation officials announced today that they're going to "study the feasibility" of three routes for the potential rail line.

See also:
-Plans for Train From Phoenix to Tucson OK'd by State Transportation Board

One plan runs alongside Interstate 10, while the other two would run around the East Valley.

Technically, there are five options for the rail line -- the three shown above, a combination of the "Orange" and "Yellow" plans, and the fifth option, which is nothing.

There previously were seven plans for the rail line route, so this is progress.

Though these all seem like grand plans that include a lot of work, the Arizona Department of Transportation has the caveat:

There is currently no construction schedule and no funding identified for a project to build a rail system between Phoenix and Tucson. It will be up to the public and policymakers to decide if the project is feasible and how to generate the funding to pay for the project.

What they're doing right now is trying to develop the plan that is needed to get authorization and funding from various local and federal entities.

So, cars and bus shuttles will remain the only viable Phoenix-to-Tucson transportation methods for quite some time.

Here's where transportation officials go from here:

Now that the three final alternatives have been identified for further study, ADOT and the study team will move forward with the Draft Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement. There will be a 45-day public comment period early next year, along with three public hearings, that will address the Draft EIS and allow the public and stakeholders to comment on the document.

This fall, ADOT will participate in another round of public outreach events in Maricopa, Pinal and Pima counties to provide community members with information on the progress of the study and the next steps. ADOT is working toward establishing the one preferred alternative for further study by the end of 2013 and wrapping up the study next year.

A lot of information about the proposed rail line can be found in this ADOT pamphlet.

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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.

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