Study begins on extending light rail to Gilbert Road in Mesa - East Valley Tribune: Business

Study begins on extending light rail to Gilbert Road in Mesa

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Posted: Thursday, July 5, 2012 6:49 am | Updated: 3:47 pm, Thu Jul 26, 2012.

Mesa is launching an effort to bring Metro light rail as far east as Gilbert Road, just weeks after construction began to extend the transit system downtown.

A $750,000 study will explore what property — and perhaps buildings — Mesa would have to buy and the cost of the 1.9-mile segment.

Metro will begin the 12-month study this summer and probably begin getting public feedback this fall, said Jodi Sorrell, Mesa’s transit outreach coordinator. Residents have shown strong interest when transit planners have been in the area previously, she said.

“They’re pretty supportive of it getting to Gilbert Road because they see the benefits of it to their neighborhood,” Sorrell said.

Transit planners will consider a design unlike any other segment of the existing 20-mile line. Metro will study transforming Main Street to a single lane in each direction and building roundabouts at roughly five intersections.

The roundabout idea came about because many north-south streets don’t cross Main Street directly, creating many three-way intersections. The roundabouts allow traffic to flow more efficiently and ensure vehicles can make u-turns every quarter-mile, Sorrell said.

The roundabouts wouldn’t be placed at any major intersections.

Metro will also study maintaining two lanes in each direction. The route wouldn’t include roundabouts in that scenario because much more property would have to be bought to accommodate a wider Main Street at those intersections.

The extension to Gilbert Road would draw about 3,000 additional daily passengers.

The study involves the only Metro extension that isn’t funded under a 20-year regional transportation plan. Mesa hasn’t identified a funding source yet.

“We’re going to start having discussions this fall on what those options might be,” Sorrell said.

Meanwhile, Metro is constructing a 3.1-mile extension that will bring light rail to Mesa Drive. The $200 million segment is scheduled to open in 2015.

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