Just before the first, official train departs 19th Ave/Dunlap, local officials and community members celebrate their new service by holding We are 19th Ave signs. Top row, first from left, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton; seventh from left, Phoenix Councilmember Daniel Valenzuela; eighth from left, Phoenix Vice Mayor Kate Gallego; far right, Valley Metro Interim CEO Scott Smith.

Just before the first, official train departs 19th Ave/Dunlap, local officials and community members celebrate their new service by holding We are 19th Ave signs. Top row, first from left, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton; seventh from left, Phoenix Councilmember Daniel Valenzuela; eighth from left, Phoenix Vice Mayor Kate Gallego; far right, Valley Metro Interim CEO Scott Smith.

Valley Metro opened three new light rail miles on its Northwest Extension in north Phoenix on Saturday.

Work on the $327 million project began in January 2013 after incoming leaders dedicated City of Phoenix and Proposition 400 funds to prevent additional delays to the project that would have resulted in the line opening in 2023.

The opening of this light rail segment is just the start of many transit improvements coming with voter approval of the Transportation 2050 plan last year.

The opening celebration and project overall, coming in ahead of schedule and on budget, are reflections of an effective partnership between Valley Metro, City of Phoenix and the construction contractor, Sundt/Stacy and Witbeck Joint Venture.

“Working closely with partners such as the City of Phoenix, we are building a transportation network that enhances our region’s quality of life and increases our ability to compete with other metro areas around the world,” said Valley Metro Interim CEO Scott Smith. “What an exciting day for Phoenix and our region as we expand to connect more of the Valley and continue on our path of building a 66-mile high-capacity light rail system over the next two decades.”

The additional 3.2 miles of service is anticipated to serve 5,000 daily riders who will be connecting to numerous central Phoenix sports and entertainment venues, Tempe Mill Avenue District and ASU and the unique arts and culture offerings of downtown Mesa.

The Northwest Extension is the Valley’s second light rail extension to open within the last seven months. In the future, seven additional high-capacity extensions, including a Phase II extension to Metrocenter Mall, are planned, or are currently under construction, that will create a 66-mile system by 2034.

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