The countdown to light rail has 699 days to go, and on Saturday, Mesa will be yet another step closer to becoming the future home of the train’s final destination.
At 9:30 a.m. Saturday, the city will officially break ground on the Sycamore Transit Center on Main Street. It will open as a major portal for riders of the Metro light rail and passengers on Valley Metro buses when light-rail construction is completed in December 2008.
The $2.6 million center will be on the northwest corner of Main and Sycamore, the site of the old Tri-City Mall. It will offer a car drop-off area, seven bus bays with shaded pedestrian seating, an information kiosk, bike racks and lockers. A 812-space park and ride lot slated for construction in 2008 will be next to the center.
By 2020, officials project an average of 9,238 riders each weekday will rely on the Sycamore Transit Center, said Mike James, a deputy transportation director for Mesa.
“It’s a wonderful thing because this transit center is really a portal to the region for the city of Mesa,” he said.
For now, the Sycamore Transit Center will be the last stop along the 20-mile stretch of track that runs from Phoenix to Mesa.
A regional transportation plan approved several years ago, however, allows for the route to be extended 2.7 miles along Main to Mesa Drive.
If that stretch is constructed, it would open by 2015, city officials said.
James said the future center will be a link to Mesa’s future Bus Rapid Transit Service — an express service with stops every mile that will travel to Superstition Springs Center in east Mesa.
Dave Richins, a Mesa Grande neighborhood leader, said he hopes light rail will encourage more businesses to be built in neighborhoods. He said, though, that the city will have to come up with a good land-use policy to promote such development.
“We need to capitalize on our investment in transit by having some increased density around the transit center, but you have to do density done right,” Richins said. “You have to do it in a way that is compatible with the surrounding neighborhood.”
Marty Macurak, a spokeswoman for Valley Metro, said five transit hubs, including the one in Mesa, will provide connections for buses and the
train. The light-rail line will have 27 boarding stations.
The groundbreaking event for the Sycamore Transit Center will be 9:30 a.m. Saturday, with speakers Vice Mayor Claudia Walters and representatives from Metro light rail, Valley Metro and the Mesa Grande neighborhood