Grassroots group opposed to design of South Central Light Rail Extension

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

Valley Metro's light rail stops at 1st Avenue and Jefferson Avenue in Downtown Phoenix, before turning east, eventually heading toward Mesa. A proposed six-mile expansion would continue the rail to Baseline Road along Central Avenue. Doing so would mean reducing the number of traffic lanes from four to two.

Celia Contreras has owned Tony's Window Tinting for 23 years, and she said she loves this area.

“My south central is different from everybody else,” Contreras said. “I like it.”

Now, she's also the organizer of the grassroots group 4 Lanes Or No Train.

Contreras said she isn't opposed to the light rail -- but she is opposed to the current design, which would reduce the number of traffic lanes. She said fewer cars will drive by, taking their business with them.

“ I couldn't pay my bills, my rent if I don’t have customers,” she said.

Down the road, Byron Waldep said restricting the lanes will make it harder to get to his restaurant, Pete's Fish & Chips.

“This would be devastating,” he said.

Valley Metro sent us a statement saying:

The South Central Light Rail Extension is being designed based on years of community input and technical analysis. More than six years ago, we conducted extensive community outreach and analysis regarding the lane configuration. Following several dozen community meetings, including a dedicated Community Working Group, and based on the experience and expertise of our professional staff, it was determined that a two-lane configuration (one lane in each direction) was the best option. The two-lane configuration achieves the community’s vision of preserving the local character and creating a more pedestrian-friendly environment, maintains local traffic flow and builds a cost-effective, FTA-ready project.

Please understand that the questions being raised were thoroughly studied, addressed and resulted in the two-lane configuration. Installing four lanes with light rail would mean that approximately 80 businesses would be impacted, dramatically altering the landscape of south Phoenix. With two lanes and efficient intersection design, effective traffic flow will be maintained as well as the character and history of the community.

Neither Waldep nor Contreras said they were contacted by Valley Metro regarding the plan. Contreras started a petition to present to City Council.

“We are citizens of south Phoenix, we pay taxes,” she said. “We are the life of this community and, yes, we are important.”

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Lindsey ReiserLindsey Reiser is a Scottsdale native and an award-winning multimedia journalist.

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Lindsey Reiser

Lindsey returned to the Valley in 2010 after covering border and immigration issues in El Paso, TX. While in El Paso she investigated public corruption, uncovered poor business practices, and routinely reported on the violence across the border.

Lindsey feels honored to have several awards under her belt, including a Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Award, Hearst Journalist Award, and several National Broadcast Education Association Awards.

Lindsey is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, and she currently serves as a mentor to journalism students. She studied for a semester in Alicante, Spain and also earned a degree in Spanish at ASU.

She is proud to serve as a member of United Blood Services’ Community Leadership Council, a volunteer advisory board for the UBS of Arizona.

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