Mesa mulls light rail
Valley Metro is evaluating whether light-rail, rapid transit bus or modern streetcar could be implemented in Mesa’s Fiesta District. The area is anchored by the Fiesta Mall, which has lost most major stores. The two-year study began this summer and is slated to conclude in summer 2019.
Valley Metro is evaluating whether light-rail, rapid transit bus or modern streetcar could be implemented in Mesa’s Fiesta District.
The area is anchored by the 38-year-old Fiesta Mall, which has lost most major stores.
Mesa was the third Valley city to welcome light-rail in 2015. A 1.9 mile extension down Main Street to Gilbert Road is under construction.
The two-year study, called an “alternatives analysis,” began this summer and is slated to conclude in summer 2019. The project is budgeted for $900,000 and will involve community outreach and study of the area around Fiesta Mall, Banner Desert Medical Center and Mesa Community College.
‘It takes many years to build a project like this’
This is the beginning of what could likely be a long process, according to Jodi Sorrell, Mesa’s transportation director.
“It takes many years to build a project like this,” she said. “When we did our first extension in Central Mesa down Main Street, it was eight years of planning, but another probably 15 years to get it in a sales-tax initiative.”
This year, Valley Metro will define the purpose and the need for high-capacity transit in the area. Over the next two years, officials will examine the options
and recommend a preferred one.
Hope that development will revive the Fiesta Mall area
Terry Gruver, a community outreach coordinator with Valley Metro, said they will consider an array of factors, particularly the public’s needs in the Fiesta District.
“We’re trying to understand some specific things from people: Where do they live and work, and where do they travel to and from and where do they see transportation needs?” she said.
Gruver and her team are still looking for feedback on the project. Residents are encouraged to go online to learn more.
There’s hope that the Fiesta District, anchored by the long-struggling Fiesta Mall, will come back to life with recent redevelopment.
Dimension Financial & Realty Investments Inc recently bought the mall for $6.72 million. The developer said they want to transform the 380,000 squarefoot property into a campus for for-profit and community schools.
Though closures of big-box stores like Best Buy spelled doom to locals, others have seen the shuttering of holdout stores in the area as opportunity for redevelopment.
Gilbert Road light-rail construction
Construction on a 1.9 mile light-rail extension to Gilbert Road kicked off in October 2016. The new segment will include two stations down Main Street starting at Mesa Drive and ending at Gilbert Road.
Sorrell said the project is coming along, currently in the below-ground construction stage. After the first of the year, the project should move to aboveground construction, resembling more of a rail project.
That project is scheduled to be completed in spring 2019.