Phoenix Plans To Landlock Capitol With Light Rail Loop

Phoenix Plans To Landlock Capitol With Light Rail Loop

By Corinne Murdock |

The city of Phoenix is planning to landlock the Arizona State Capitol with a light rail loop: the “Capitol Extension.” A cost estimate has yet to be announced. 

The Capitol Extension will form a 1.4 mile-loop with three stations around the capitol. It’s an addition to the existing Valley Metro Rail system from 3rd Avenue along Washington Street, 19th Avenue, and Jefferson Street. That runs right along the area of the infamous mass homeless encampment known as The Zone, prompting concerns about ridership and capitol grounds safety. 

Crime has increased along the Valley Metro light rail system over the last few years. There were over 1,300 incidents in 2020, over 1,600 incidents in 2021, and nearly 2,500 incidents in 2022. According to city data reflected in a 12 News report last May, crime in and around public transit has risen consistently since 2016; the FBI data outlining this crime spike was last updated in 2021.

The extension also surrounds the adjacent Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza, Supreme Court, Library Park, and U.S. District Court, stopping short of the current rail loop in front of Phoenix City Hall. 

The Phoenix City Council and Valley Metro Rail Board of Directors issued this design — the Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) — in November 2021. Plans for the Capitol Extension date back to actions taken by the Phoenix City Council and Valley Metro Rail Board of Directors in 2016. 

Prior to construction, federal regulations require an Environmental Assessment. The assessment and preliminary engineering carry an estimated cost of $4.85 million. Preliminary engineering began in 2021 and is scheduled to run through the end of this year; the environmental assessment began this year and is scheduled to run through 2024. 

The Capitol Extension isn’t scheduled to run until late 2027.

Final design and pre-construction is scheduled to begin in 2024 and last through 2025; then construction is scheduled to begin in 2025 and last through 2027; testing and certification is scheduled to begin in mid-2027, with no anticipated end date in sight; and revenue service is scheduled to begin in late 2027. 

Construction will consist of three to four years of underground utility relocation; trackwork and street rebuilding; sidewalks, landscaping, and signage; stations and overhead electrification; and testing, certification, and operations.

According to a public meeting held earlier this month to discuss design of the tracks, stations, roadway, sidewalks, and street striping, the extension will be funded by 50 percent federal funds, 35 percent local funds, and 15 percent regional funds. Federal funding will come from the Capital Investment Grant (CIG) and Congestion Mitigation, Air Quality (CMAQ); regional funding will come from the Public Transportation Fund (PTF), and extension funds are included within Proposition 400; local funding will come from the Phoenix Transportation 2050 Sales Tax.

The city did disclose in the meeting that the funding breakdown may be subject to change depending on the availability of federal dollars.

The meeting also sought applicants for a Stakeholder Art Review Committee to select art pieces to adorn the Capitol Extension. 

Future public meetings will discuss the design of the drainage, systems, utilities, right-of-way, traffic signals, and landscaping.

Public comment on the Capitol Extension can be submitted here; a signup for email notices on the project is available here.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to

“Rally The Valley” Banner Hangs From Capitol As Arizona Cheers Suns

“Rally The Valley” Banner Hangs From Capitol As Arizona Cheers Suns

PHOENIX — A banner supporting the Phoenix Suns basketball team is displayed atop the Arizona State Capitol to support the team as they compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA) 2021 Finals.

This is the first time the Phoenix Suns have made it to the NBA Finals since 1993. These Finals games have set 20-year TV viewership records in the Phoenix area, according to the NBA. The Phoenix Suns previously competed in the NBA Finals twice before. This year would be their first championship win. The Suns have the second-highest winning percentage of any team that has not yet won an NBA championship.

The large, colorful banner is more than 30 feet wide and will hang from the Arizona State Capitol Executive Tower through the end of the Finals. It can be seen from the east side of the Capitol complex from downtown Phoenix.

Governor Doug Ducey also announced the Capitol dome will be lit in the Phoenix Suns team colors of purple and orange beginning tonight at sundown.

“Arizona is fired up and rooting for the Suns this week as they compete in the NBA Finals,” said Ducey in a press release. “The Phoenix Suns have assembled one of their strongest lineups in recent memory and have an incredible record going into these final games. All of Arizona is behind them and with this banner, we’re showing our support here at the State Capitol. Let’s go Suns!”

After winning the first two Finals games in Phoenix, the Suns are facing off against the Milwaukee Bucks for Game Four on Wednesday night. Fans will be cheering on the Suns throughout Arizona as they work to overcome Sunday night’s loss and win in Milwaukee Wednesday. The Suns will return to the Phoenix Suns Arena in Phoenix on Saturday for Game Five.