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Mesa Light Rail Extension To Gilbert Road Exceeds Planned Budget By $21.4 Million

Mesa light rail extension to Gilbert Road
(Screen capture via Valley Metro)
A map of the Mesa light rail expansion to Gilbert Road.

Mesa’s light rail extension from Mesa Drive to Gilbert Road will cost about $21.4 million more than originally budgeted.

To make up the difference, the city must increase its 5.7 percent matching contribution to $1.3 million. In addition, about $22 million from road improvement projects will be re-directed to the light rail.

Mesa City Council will decide whether to approve the expenditure at its regular meeting Monday.

“Construction costs have gone up and there’s a lot of major projects and building happening around the Valley,” said Transit Services Director Jodi Sorrell.

In addition, a report to city council noted a lawsuit delayed the project for almost two years. Staff added retention basins to the project after heavy rain around the same time.

The project’s maximum price, as of the end of 2016, is $186 million. Thus, the city’s matching contribution increased to $10.6 million.

To make up the rest of the funds, staff reviewed projects planned to be funded in a regional road improvement program through the Maricopa Association of Governments.

Five projects were eliminated “due to low traffic volume and a low number of vehicle crashes.” These include intersections at Lindsay Road and Brown Road and four intersections on McKellips Road.

“Probably the biggest factor is the Red Mountain Freeway has opened and that has diverted a lot of traffic off of some of the arterials that run parallel,” Sorrell said.

Construction on the extension started in October and is scheduled to be complete in 2019.

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Mariana Dale rustles up stories as a senior field correspondent based out of KJZZ’s East Valley Bureau in Tempe. She’s followed a microphone onto cattle ranches, to the Dominican Republic and many places in between. Dale believes in a story’s strength to introduce us to diverse perspectives, inspire curiosity and hold public leaders accountable for their actions. She started at KJZZ on the digital team in 2016 and still spends a lot of time thinking about how to engage with our community online. Dale has learned from stints at Arizona Public Media, The Arizona Daily Star, The Arizona Republic and as an intern at NPR’s Morning Edition in Culver City. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Dale is grateful for the mentoring of the New York Times Student Journalism Institute, the Chips Quinn Scholars program and AIR’s New Voices Scholars. A desert native, she loves spending time outside hiking, tending to her cactus and reading.