The lag time between Christmas and New Year’s brings a milestone for the Valley this year.
The long-awaited light rail line, called Metro, is finally opening. Stretching 20 miles from Mesa through Tempe to Phoenix, the commuter train will link some of the Valley’s most popular entertainment, cultural and employment districts — and bring our desert metropolis into the company of rail-touting cities such as Boston; Newark, N.J.; Philadelphia; and Portland, Ore.
If you thought the Arizona Department of Transportation’s freeway parties — where citizens are invited to ride their bikes, hula-hoop and generally “par-tay” on soon-to-be-opened stretches of roadway — were a nice tradition, stand back: Metro officials are planning a blowout for this weekend’s light-rail debut.
Not only does every single person get to ride free through the end of 2008, each of the line’s 28 train stations are hosting free parties 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 27. Simply show up, grab a seat on a train and get on and off at will.
Each stop is adorned with unique artwork and serves as a gateway to a variety of nearby destinations, places like Sun Devil Stadium, Downtown Phoenix Public Market and Symphony Hall.
It’s a good excuse to ride the rails, whether you live close enough to the Metro line to become a regular or not. Here are the day’s highlights, organized by station, going from east to west: