Obama budget includes Mesa light rail cash

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX (AP) -- The federal budget released by the Obama Administration this week includes $37.5 million to help pay for an extension of the Phoenix area's light rail lines.

The allocation announced by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Tuesday is half what Metro has asked for in federal funds to help pay for a 3.1 mile extension into Mesa. The $200 million
project is in the design phase and construction is expected to begin next year.

The rail lines will be extended from their current end at Sycamore Street to downtown Mesa's central business district and Mesa Drive.

When the extension is complete Metro's light rail system will span 23 miles from Mesa to north-central Phoenix. Officials hope to build another 34 miles of rail line in the next 20 years.