Mesa light rail expansion reaches halfway point

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

MESA, Ariz. -- The light rail extension under construction in Mesa will reach a milestone Saturday.

Rail welding will begin on the 3.1-mile extension, which is along Main Street from the Sycamore station to Mesa Road downtown.

"This is an important milestone because we're approaching the halfway point of construction," a Valley Metro spokeswoman said. "What did look like any construction project is now going to start to look like an actual light rail track."

The new section of the light rail is scheduled to open in late 2015 or early 2016.

"The light rail extension through downtown Mesa is a game-changer for our community," Mayor Scott Smith said in a statement. "The welding of this first piece of light rail is the next step in our downtown's transformation to the more urban lifestyle our residents seek."

The milestone will be marked by a ceremonial weld Saturday at Alma School Road and Main Street. The ceremony begins at 9 a.m.

The event, which runs from 8 to 10 a.m., will also include a free breakfast and family-friendly activities. Smith will be in attendance.

"I'd like to recognize the cooperative efforts of the community, local businesses, the city of Mesa, and our construction partners," Valley Metro CEO Steve Banta said in a statement. "This is a time to celebrate our continued effort to expand the total transit network."