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Phoenix Light Rail Extension To Open Saturday

(Photo by Matthew Casey - KJZZ)
Alla Isakova, owner of Joe's Barber Shop, cuts Keith Nixon's hair on senior discount day. Nixon said he visits Isakova's shop about once a month.

The 3.2-mile light rail extension on 19th Avenue in northwest Phoenix opens Saturday. After three years of construction, local businesses say they’re excited to get back to normal.

Joe’s Barber Shop near 19th and Glendale Avenues is busiest on Wednesday evenings. Owner Alla Isakova said her chairs fill up with seniors taking advantage of discount day and younger people who want haircuts after work.

But Isakova said light rail work snarled afternoon traffic outside the shop, made it difficult for customers to access Joe’s and harder for her to pay the $2,400 monthly rent.

“Before, we have a full house. We cut like 50, 40 people a day,” Isakova said. “During the construction it's going down.” 

With the light rail extension finished, Isakova said she’s hopeful business will start to come back.

Farther north, Hobby Bench has been selling crafts and toys for about 40 years at its store near 19th and Northern Avenues.

Light rail construction didn’t hurt business because of the store’s location near a major intersection and a loyal customer base. Still, manager Randy Rankin said building the extension was a waste of money.

“Light rail in any city per se, once it goes through, it tends to get more of a slummy type area,” said Rankin, who manages the store's radio-controlled car section. “You look at Central Phoenix where the light rail first came through and it's not the same as it used to be.”

The next extension could take light rail past Grand Canyon University and into downtown Glendale. The Glendale City Council said earlier this month that more analysis needs to be done before they’ll vote on the proposal.


Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.