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  #1  
Old Posted Nov 26, 2006, 10:54 AM
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Arrow Metro Phoenix Transit/Transportation Developments

Railroad touts expansion
Union Pacific builds parallel track; yard at Picacho under fire

Mark Shaffer
The Arizona Republic
Nov. 26, 2006

Union Pacific railroad's multimillion-dollar project to build a second parallel track across Arizona, which is more than half complete, is expected to cut gridlock and help freight flow through the state.

Crowded rail lines have been a chronic problem since the late 1990s because of a huge surge in the use of rail to move products from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to points east. Goods from Chinese and other Asian companies are responsible for most of the increase in traffic.

The railroad says it needs one more piece to make the system work in Arizona: a $180 million rail-switching yard to complement the yards in Phoenix and Tucson, which are operating at capacity.

The switching yard, located 80 miles south of downtown Phoenix, would offer expanded loading and unloading opportunities, especially for southeast Valley manufacturers, Union Pacific officials said.

The proposed location, however, is already drawing controversy.

The second line through the state is essential because the number of trains per day has nearly doubled to 49 in less than a decade, Union Pacific officials said. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway also has had a similar growth curve to more than 100 trains a day through Kingman, Flagstaff and other points in northern Arizona.

A shortage of truck drivers nationally also has exacerbated the problem. American Trucking Association officials say there is a shortage of 20,000 drivers in the industry, and that is expected to grow to 100,000 during the next decade.

"We've tried a lot of things to relieve the congestion, from more and more cars left on side tracks to double-stacking as many as 100 rail cars per trip," said Joe Arbona, a Union Pacific spokesman. "But with demand for Asian goods increasing 8 to 10 percent a year, we haven't been able to keep up with the growth with a single track."

Arizona is part of Union Pacific's Sunset Route from Los Angeles to El Paso before the line branches to various cities east.

The second track is being built in existing right of way, with most of the work completed between Gila Bend and the California line, and Tucson and the New Mexico line. Most of the work remaining is in south-central Arizona, including where the switching yard would be constructed.

The company would not give a specific figure for the cost of the track expansion beyond "tens of millions" of dollars.

Picacho Peak protest

Union Pacific's aggressive pursuit of purchasing nearly 1,500 acres of state trust land to build the rail-switching yard in an undeveloped area near Picacho Peak State Park has stirred up a hornet's nest of protest.

The Pinal County Board of Supervisors is expected to vote at its meeting Monday whether to rezone the land for heavy industrial use. If approved, that would kick-start negotiations between Union Pacific and the state for the land, which parallels Interstate 10.

Mark Davis, a Union Pacific spokesman in Omaha, Neb., said the company has been searching for more than three years trying to find a new switching site, "and this one is by far the best because the land is already level and there's very little else out there."

"It seems like everywhere else we've looked at there have been conflicts, whether it's been other development, cemeteries or large arroyos and rivers in the landscape," he said.

If the deal is completed, it would be one of more than 90 rail yards that Union Pacific has around the country, Davis said, adding that just more than one-third of the land would be used for rail cars and track and the rest for a buffer zone and future growth. The switching yard would employ 290 workers, 200 who now work at the railway's facilities in Tucson and 90 who would be new hires. Davis said the yard would be about three miles long.

The Pinal County Planning and Zoning Commission voted down the idea of the switching yard at a meeting last month. That followed residents in the Picacho Peak area starting a "save the peak" campaign, creating a Web site and plastering billboards along I-10 with anti-Union Pacific themes.

D.C. "Rooster" Cogburn, an area rancher, said the railroad plans are the most traumatic thing to happen to the area since hot-air balloons panicked his ostrich herd and resulted in the deaths of 100 of them during a stampede six years ago.

"This is a pristine valley, and they've really set the house on fire by completely trying to alter this area and forcing it down our throats," he said.

Herb Kai, who currently leases the land from the state and grows cotton, said he has stored thousands of acre-feet of groundwater beneath the site for the Arizona Water Banking Authority. In addition to the noise and night-light impact on the state park, Kai fears for the groundwater because of the potential for accidents and chemical and fuel spills at the switching yard.

But Davis said Union Pacific has not decided whether the switching yard will be used as a fueling station.

Jamie Hogue, deputy state land commissioner, said the land department is determined to sell the property because it is mandated by state law to determine the "highest and best use" of the land. Hogue said that means selling some property bordering major highways, but that no appraisal had yet been conducted on the land.

"It would be tough arriving at a value for it because we haven't sold anything in that area for more than a decade," Hogue said, adding that the Land Department owns more than 10,000 acres in the Picacho Peak area.

Hogue and Davis said Union Pacific could make a case to claim eminent domain over the land, which would eliminate any local zoning control, but Davis said "that's definitely the last option we would consider."

Hogue said the best scenario for the state would be to sell the land by the end of 2007.

"But if the Board of Supervisors rejects this proposal, we are going to have to huddle again and come up with another approach. In the end, we will have to weigh all the interests and then take it to public auction," Hogue said.

Spur for development?

Mike Anable, a former state land commissioner who is representing Kai, said he questions how much economic development would happen around a switching yard. The project has been supported by economic development groups in nearby Casa Grande.

"From what I've seen, there are no plans for ancillary businesses there. It's strictly a switching yard to move trains," Anable said.

"It's been like all of a sudden Union Pacific comes along and, boom, we're talking heavy industrial development around a state park where hikers climb to try to get away from it all," Anable said.

"It's definitely being pushed on the fast track when what we need is an extensive, deliberate study of this."
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  #2  
Old Posted Nov 26, 2006, 4:01 PM
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^ The "save the peak" campaign has merits--they are proposing to plop this thing basically next door, but thwarting development around Picacho Peak is a fool's chase--the people are coming.

Industry like UP is sorely needed for the state's competitveness, and where you have functioning freight rail networks you have functioning passenger rail networks. Ranchers and preservationists should focus their resources on real alternatives to congestion on I-10/I-8 which I'm certain is far more damaging to the desert than any rail yard UP could be build. To that end, the proposed yard could give UP the capacity to allow high quality commuter service in three counties.

I'm sure there are ways to mitigate the yard's environmental impact that could be factored into the sale price of the land, but UP seriously needs to open up to commuter rail if we are to permit such major operations surrounded by largely untouched desert.
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  #3  
Old Posted Nov 27, 2006, 9:29 AM
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Some Transportation News.....

Circulator buses will pump up communities

Monica Alonzo-Dunsmoor
The Arizona Republic
Nov. 27, 2006 12:00 AM


Article Link

Phoenix is bringing a transportation first to the Valley by rolling out smaller buses in several communities to get residents to neighborhood hotspots, cut down on local traffic and tie into major bus lines.

While other Valley cities, including Glendale, Scottsdale and Tempe, have buses that run looped routes in and around their downtowns, Phoenix is expected to have eight neighborhood shuttles online by 2008.

"Part of the intent is to encourage people to leave their cars behind - to lessen car use," said Marie Chapple Camacho, a spokeswoman for Phoenix Public Transit Department. "There are areas that are pretty congested, and if you take some cars off the road, it helps."

She said the smaller circulator buses also will navigate neighborhood streets that regular buses can't squeeze through and will make stops at regularly visited destinations.

"People will like it because it brings the circulators (buses) closer to homes," Chapple Camacho said.

Such neighborhood service is already available in Ahwatukee Foothills, where Phoenix launched its first neighborhood circulator service five years ago. Since then, the 40-mile route in the southeast Phoenix community has been a hit with residents.

Sue Phlipot, 47, said the Ahwatukee Local Explorer, or ALEX, has been wonderful, especially for the youth in the community. She said Greg, her 15-year-old son, rides it often and spent nearly every day last summer zipping around to shopping malls, the local YMCA and the movie theater.

"It gives them a chance to be independent," she said. "It provides them transportation at different times of the day, to school and back home if they stay after school. For those in high school and who are a little older but don't have cars, they use ALEX to get to their jobs or to the library."

City officials are hoping for similar success in other parts of the city.

Phoenix is planning to unveil more neighborhood buses in Maryvale and Sunnyslope by mid- to late 2007. Those will be followed in 2008 by others in the following areas: Desert Ridge, Desert Sky, Laveen, South Mountain and northwest Phoenix.

The small buses will cost $50,000 to $65,000, depending on the model, and 20 will be ordered this year. Each route will get more than one bus.

Annual operating costs are expected to be about $600,000 per route.

Residents of Desert Ridge in northeast Phoenix are already meeting to discuss possible routes and potential stops.

"The growth has been totally phenomenal," said Nick Meris, vice chairman of the Desert Ridge Homeowners' Network and a member of a committee that will help decide on the routes and stops.

He said the shuttles will "move people from one area to another without them having to get in their car, driving a short distance and then having difficulty finding a place to park."

The service will be a boon to residents of the 5,700-acre community that now has about 2,500 homes and a vibrant mix of commercial and retail development.

In other cities, circulators are geared toward moving shoppers and visitors around downtown shops, restaurants and other businesses.

The Scottsdale Trolley is a bus that meanders through the city's downtown art and shopping districts.

In Tempe, circulator buses zip around Arizona State University and make some stops in nearby neighborhoods.

Glendale's shuttles run through its historic downtown and weave into some neighborhood streets, but mostly stick to major thoroughfares.

Glendale transportation officials are contemplating the idea of adding shuttles to bridge the four-mile gap between the city's historic downtown, known for antique shops and restaurants, and its blossoming sports and entertainment district.

"We have to do everything we can to make that connection," said Julie Frisoni, a Glendale spokeswoman. "It's for more than just the residents. Many of the people out there will be visitors, and we have to make it seamless, make it easy for them to get downtown."

Making it easier for people to get around is the bottom line.

"Our goal in public transit is to provide additional options," said Councilman Greg Stanton, who represents Ahwatukee Foothills. "It's not just about traditional buses, but it includes convenience services, like neighborhood circulators and light rail, which is coming soon. They an important part of the transportation spectrum."

=============================================

Finally....this is the first step in providing comprehensive bus service to communities, especially the ones where the bigger bus routes cannot squeeze into the smaller streets, and provide service to those who live smack in the middle of the grid system (too far away to walk to an arterial street). It's a good step in the right direction, and although a shuttle won't directly service my neighborhood (35th Avenue and Missouri, in the Alhambra community), it will serve others that really need it, like Maryvale. Add this, along with expanded bus service and the light rail system, and you will start to have a much better transportation service in place...better than before, that's for sure.

-Andrew
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  #4  
Old Posted Nov 28, 2006, 9:32 PM
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Post US Airways plans pitch for Delta

I know US Airways is a Tempe-based airline but this really is a regional issue with significant implications if it happens. This would make US Air the largest US carrier. Wouldn't that be something to have the headquarters in the metro area. I'm getting way ahead of myself, but one would think they would require much more office space to accomodate the expanded company. No offense to Tempe (you know we love you) but this could be the mega-headquarters opportunity the powers-that-be in downtown Phoenix salivate over. That elusive major corporate headquarters tower ...one can dream.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061128/...lta_us_airways

US Airways plans pitch for Delta bid
By HARRY R. WEBER, AP Business Writer
24 minutes ago

ATLANTA - US Airways Group Inc. will pitch its $8.6 billion unsolicited offer for Delta Air Lines Inc. in a meeting this week with Delta and the committee representing the unsecured creditors in Delta's bankruptcy case, a lawyer for the committee said Tuesday.

The lawyer, Daniel Golden, said in a telephone interview that the committee's advisers will be present at the meeting in New York, along with US Airways officials and Delta senior executives.

Neither Golden nor spokesmen for Atlanta-based Delta and Tempe, Ariz.-based US Airways would say what day the meeting will take place.

Golden said the creditors committee will go into the meeting with an open mind, even as Delta has said it opposes a merger and hopes to emerge from bankruptcy in the first half of next year as a standalone company. The head of Delta's pilots union has expressed support for Delta's plan. The union is a member of the creditors committee.

"We have great respect for Delta's management," Golden said. "We think they've done a very good job in Chapter 11. But at the end of the day we're going to make a determination about what works best for the estate and the unsecured creditors."

The meeting will be the first between all three sides since US Airways made its hostile bid for Delta public on Nov. 15. It will give US Airways an opportunity to pitch its offer directly to the creditors.

"I assume they are going to explain their rationale for the plan and the synergies they suggest ... and the hurdles they see and how they intend to deal with those hurdles," Golden said.

No timetable has been put on when the creditors committee will make a decision on whether it will support the US Airways offer or Delta's standalone plan, Golden said. Delta still must file its formal reorganization plan, which it expects to do by next month.

Golden said the creditors will weigh the pros and cons of the offer against any other offers that may come in and the merits of Delta's standalone plan.

"We have a job to do, which is to maximize recoveries for unsecured creditors," Golden said. He declined to say if any other airline has made an offer to buy Delta.

US Airways sent another newsletter to its employees Monday explaining the regulatory issues that will be considered by the government in deciding whether to approve the deal. The company stated again its belief that there still would be plenty of competition after a US Airways-Delta deal.
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  #5  
Old Posted Nov 30, 2006, 2:03 PM
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http://www.azcentral.com/news/articl...xtend1130.html

Light rail may come early to West Valley
Metro may move up timetable by 4 years

Sean Holstege
The Arizona Republic
Nov. 30, 2006 12:00 AM


Efforts are gathering steam to send light rail out to traffic-weary suburban commuters four years early.

Today, the Metro board will take steps that would allow an 11-mile extension west along Interstate 10 to open as early as 2015. It's a goal shared by Phoenix City Hall and many West Valley commuters.

The extension will not solve all the freeway's traffic congestion, partly because light rail would stop just east of Loop 101 and development west of there continues at a rapid pace.

But regional officials say it will ease the woes. Even a tiny reduction in cars on a freeway can greatly lessen congestion, traffic engineers say. Plus, I-10 rail plans are moving ahead in tandem with plans to widen the freeway.

The efforts represent the Valley's sometimes frantic attempts to keep up with growth as far-flung development outpaces the area's ability to build a transportation system.

The Metro board today is expected to seek federal study money for the first time and agree to launch that study in January rather than 2011.

That is possible because Phoenix has offered to jump-start the study with as much as $6 million in upfront money.

Among the options being examined: using buses or some kind of rail, and running transit down the I-10 median, along the freeway or through a nearby neighborhood.

"We'd like to have the I-10 extension opened today," said Ed Zuercher, chief of staff for Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon. "We have the opportunity, because of our local tax (revenue), to push this one up."

The I-10 route isn't scheduled to open until 2019, after extensions open in Tempe, Mesa, north Phoenix toward Metrocenter mall and into downtown Glendale.

Metro officials insist they don't want to change that voter-mandated sequence, which would take a majority vote of all the cities in the region.

But the I-10 line is gaining prominence in city halls for three reasons: rapidly increasing traffic, state plans to widen the interstate and the opening of University of Phoenix Stadium and Westgate Center in Glendale.


Request for $13 million
In its request, Metro will ask the federal government for $13 million to study all extensions due to open before 2020 except one. Not listed was the proposed downtown Glendale line. Glendale's mayor and business leaders have said they would prefer that the rail go to Westgate Center.

Every year, I-10 traffic congestion worsens. In 2005, about 174,000 cars traveled I-10 past 83rd Avenue, according to the Maricopa Association of Governments. By 2009, the number will grow to 208,000. Traffic there will have increased 86 percent in a little more than a decade, the group says.

The three most popular destinations for I-10 commuters from west of Loop 101 are downtown Phoenix, uptown along Central Avenue and Sky Harbor International Airport, data from the county group shows. All destinations will be served by the light-rail system due to open in late 2008.

Trains in the freeway would attract commuters because stations would be spaced every two miles, allowing faster service than is possible on the denser 20-mile starter line.

Meanwhile, the Arizona Department of Transportation is planning to expand the clogged freeway and will launch its own study next summer. The state reserved 50 feet in the median, enough for light rail. There is also reserved easement on the side of the interstate.

Between the I-10 and I-17 juncture and Loop 101, there is room for an extra lane and light rail, in addition to the existing HOV lane. Between Loops 101 and 303, there is room, money and current plans for adding two lanes and extending the HOV lane west.

Without disrupting those plans, light rail could extend farther west only if tracks take a flyover bridge to the side.

West of Loop 303, there are plans for only one extra freeway lane.

Avondale officials said the city is interested in anything that relieves I-10 congestion, including an unplanned rail extension beyond Loop 101.

The Maricopa Association of Governments says light rail would lose its effectiveness if it went too much farther, adding commuter rail on freight tracks is a better option for suburbs such as Buckeye.

Metro's study also is being prompted by ADOT's freeway widening plans.

"We have an opportunity to coordinate with ADOT on a project they need and we need," Metro Project Development Director Wulf Grote said.


A visit to Denver
Metro, ADOT and MAG recently visited Denver to see how its transit agency coordinated with Colorado's Department of Transportation to build the T-REX extension.

The $1.7 billion combo freeway expansion and new light-rail line opened earlier this month, nearly two years ahead of schedule. The joint effort saved $300 million.

Many of the stations in Denver were built to the side of the freeway. Grote's team recently concluded that the center of I-10 would work better.

But real answers won't be known until after the two-year study. It will tell planners the best options for how and where to put transit.

Historically, such studies tend to reinforce the prevailing wisdom and conclude that connecting to light rail with a different form of transit creates an undesirable transfer.
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Old Posted Nov 30, 2006, 4:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loftlovr
Metro may move up timetable by 4 years
...
Historically, such studies tend to reinforce the prevailing wisdom and conclude that connecting to light rail with a different form of transit creates an undesirable transfer.
That's good news. I hope they do accelerate it. I think I-10 on the west side is probably the most chronically congested freeway in the Valley (along with I-17 north of the 101). The benefit-cost ratio for this segment was among the highest of any transit corridor in MAG's High Capacity Transit Study that was done a few years ago. The last sentence in the article kind of surprised me... I guess I can understand it, though, especially with the grid system we have - if you want to get to Central Phx from the west side using transit, it's probably easier to just take one bus to Central Ave. I would think there would be a much greater need for park & ride lots along an I-10 LRT route than along the 20-mile starter segment they're building now. Anyway, good news - maybe we'll get a T-Rex of our own!
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Old Posted Dec 1, 2006, 2:34 PM
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I guess I still don't agree that I-10 West's median is the best answer for LRT to the Westgate-area.

Last edited by oliveurban; Dec 1, 2006 at 2:58 PM.
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Old Posted Dec 1, 2006, 3:30 PM
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I think the point is more to relieve I-10 congestion and for people in West Phoenix than to serve Westgate. Westgate and the developments around it may add traffic to I-10, but the LRT would help with commuting options for people in Maryvale, etc. When studies looking at transit (MAG's High Capacity Transit Study and the Regional Transit System Study) were completed in 2003, Westgate was nowhere in sight and the I-10 corridor still had the best rating in terms of cost effectiveness - that is, the number of people and the "environmental justice" population (disabled, low income, minorities, elderly) it would serve compared to the cost.

The Regional Transportation Plan identified an "Eligible High Capacity Corridor" from I-10 to Bethany Home Rd. along the 101, which would serve the Westgate area. I don't think there would be a more efficient way to bring LRT to Westgate... if they were to branch off from the 19th Ave section of the starter segment along Bethany Home Rd. (as originally proposed to serve downtown Glendale) to the 101, it would be a much longer extension, with much more invasive construction since it would likely run in the middle of a surface street instead of alongside or in the median of a freeway.

Last edited by Sekkle; Dec 1, 2006 at 4:19 PM.
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Old Posted Dec 1, 2006, 5:32 PM
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If you run the LRT completely up the 10/101, that eliminates any chance of TOD, plus the chance to effectively use Desert Sky Mall as a regional transit hub/park and ride/etc.

Down I-10 is probably the best route between DSM and downtown, but if you run your finger from DSM to as far north as Bell Rd, there's a whole bunch of stuff that would be well served by a line on 83rd/91st Ave.

How do they expect LRT to do any good in the 101 corridor when there aren't even connecting buses?
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Old Posted Dec 1, 2006, 5:53 PM
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I agree that, in terms of transit modes, LRT might make more sense on a city street (83rd or 91st or wherever) than a freeway (with heavy rail a more sensible option for a freeway median), but I wouldn't say running LRT in freeway right of way eliminates the opportunity for TOD. Maybe you won't have lofts or offices directly overlooking the rail line and pretty streetscapes focused on the rail, but you can still develop the area within ~1/2 mile of the rail as a more dense area. The idea is that people could walk to the stops. While I know that people here don't like to walk much, I don't think there's a major difference in walking 1/4 mile vs. walking 200' out your office door. Running rail in freeway right of way, especially in the median, has the potential to make the trip much more efficient, since the trains wouldn't have to deal with street lights, etc.

As far as the connecting buses in the 101 corridor, by the time the rail is extended to Westgate, which will be quite a while, the bus system will certainly connect all major city streets in that area.
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Old Posted Dec 3, 2006, 11:16 PM
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Post The "New" Delta HQ???

http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/index.php?sty=79968

Here's a long article from the East Valley Trib this morning by Donna Hogan. It is a good update of the current state of US Airway's hostile takeover bid for Delta. I only excerpted a small section regarding the future headquarters and hub issues. If this goes through, Phoenix/Tempe would score quite a coo if the headquarters were in the metro area...probably a long shot verses Atlanta.

HEADQUARTERS AND HUBS

"Whether a merged airline would land in US Airways’ Tempe headquarters or Delta’s Atlanta home are only of concern to the two hometown markets.

US Airways spokeswoman Andrea Rader said a decision about that is not even on the company’s radar screen yet. Economic development experts in both markets may be working feverishly on their pitches, with thousands of jobs — and considerable prestige — at stake. But US Airways has more immediate issues to work on first, Rader said.

"We’ve not been actively lobbied,” Rader said. “But people are letting us know their cities are fabulous.”

And Rader said both places would still have plenty of US Airways employees, regardless of the headquarters location.

“No matter where we end up, we will have a substantial presence in both cities,” she said.

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport would unquestionably remain major hubs. Not so other cities, said Calyon Securities airline analyst Ray Neidl. US Airways hub Charlotte, N.C., is too close to Delta hub Atlanta. Delta’s Salt Lake City hub is too close to Phoenix."
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Old Posted Dec 13, 2006, 4:51 AM
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City talks of train station rebirth
Downtown landmark eyed for shopping, dining

Angela Cara Pancrazio
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 13, 2006 12:00 AM

For more than two decades, the city has eyed the potential of Phoenix's Union Station. With all of its space and its Mission Revival architecture, the 1923 rail-passenger center could be a city centerpiece filled with shops, restaurants and artists, officials have proposed.

That vision never came to fruition.

The last train carrying passengers pulled out of the station in the mid-1990s. In recent years, the station has been inaccessible to the public. There's a security fence ringing the building because Sprint owns it and stores equipment in it.
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But lately, with the renaissance of downtown Phoenix, Sprint and the city's Historic Preservation Office are talking about what is the best use for the building.

"Now there's momentum for something to happen," said Barbara Stocklin, the city's historic preservation officer.

From the beginning, Phoenix's Union Station was designed to be a high-profile building in the city's core, Stocklin said.

"Downtown is at a crossroads and Sprint is at a crossroads - that's always good," Stocklin said.

"If Sprint's interested in doing something else, it's good timing."

Sitting on Harrison Street at Fourth Avenue, the station borders the southwestern fringe of downtown's warehouse district. Over the past several years, the district has slowly reinvented itself with a handful of galleries, restaurants and lofts.

"You could do just about anything with the station," Stocklin said.

It could be restored for its original use, she said, as a commuter rail station and a transportation hub with buses and taxis.

Four hundred and seventy-five feet long and 110 feet at its widest, the station has the potential to become a destination place, said Brian Kearney of the Downtown Phoenix Partnership, and could easily be a home for restaurants, a museum, galleries and retail.

Many Union Stations across the country have been demolished, but just as many cities have found ways to renovate and reuse the buildings. The name - Union Station - was created as a common name when the Southern Pacific railroad and the Santa Fe railroad consolidated their passenger depots into one "union" station.

Examples of how cities that have adaptively reused their stations are:


• Kansas City's Union Station is a science museum and Amtrak terminal, and has restaurants and shops.


• St. Louis's Union Station has a light-rail stop outside and has a shopping mall and hotel.


• Temple, Texas, has converted its rail station into a transportation museum and Amtrak stop.


• Dallas' Union Terminal is now a transportation center for Amtrak, light rail and commuter rail.


• Los Angeles' Union Passenger Terminal still services Amtrak, as well as heavy commuter rail, and has restaurants and shopping.


• Tucson's rail station is now an Amtrak stop, museum and retail center.


• Flagstaff's rail station is now an Amtrak stop, regional tourist bureau and car-rental station.

Many of these conversions, Stocklin said, have been accomplished with federal transportation enhancement funds, a required set-aside program from federal highway dollars since 1991.

These dollars are still available, Stocklin said, and could potentially be used for a conversion of Phoenix's Union Station as well.

Phoenix's is on the city's Historic Register.

"The best thing is they've (Sprint) maintained the building," Stocklin said. "They've been the steward of the building."
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Old Posted Dec 13, 2006, 5:17 AM
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^Wow, that sounds fantastic! I lived in St Louis the past few years, and their Union Station (which is much larger) is a pretty big tourist draw. Though it does remind me a tad of the Arizona Center, lots of shops that sell like St Louis shot glasses and Missouri state flags, crap like that.

I think the ideal the thing would be for the station to have restaurants, bars, clubs and retail, make it an extension, or really the Western anchor of the entertainment district (with Chase Field being the Eastern anchor). I'd hope they don't go w/ a museum, I have a feeling most people don't want to go to a train museum (which is what I assume it would be). I'd rather have something there thats lively and exciting, if they do a museum, I hope its only a small portion.

It would also be good if there was Amtrak making stops there, but I suppose there isn't much of a demand for that. I think I recall hearing that Phoenix is the only large city in the country w/ out an Amtrak station. I certainly have a lot of friends at NAU who would probably use a Phoenix-Flagstaff train.

I haven't been down there in a while, but I think there is a big ugly tower of some kind right in front of the station that would need to be torn down. There's also a big ugly grey parking garage next to it if I recall, hopefully they'd be able to conceal it w/ landscaping, or make it look nicer in some way.
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Old Posted Dec 13, 2006, 5:26 AM
HX_Guy HX_Guy is online now
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Isn't Madison St Jail very close to there as well? That probably won't be very appealing to people who might want to visit the area.
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  #15  
Old Posted Dec 13, 2006, 5:48 AM
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Isn't Madison St Jail very close to there as well? That probably won't be very appealing to people who might want to visit the area.
Well its on Madison and like 1st or 2nd ave. Union Station is south of Jackson, on Harrison, north of Buchanan, between 3rd and 5th ave. So its a few blocks away...I don't imagine it would be too much of a problem.
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Old Posted Dec 13, 2006, 11:43 AM
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City talks of train station rebirth
Downtown landmark eyed for shopping, dining

Angela Cara Pancrazio
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 13, 2006 12:00 AM

For more than two decades, the city has eyed the potential of Phoenix's Union Station. With all of its space and its Mission Revival architecture, the 1923 rail-passenger center could be a city centerpiece filled with shops, restaurants and artists, officials have proposed.

That vision never came to fruition.

The last train carrying passengers pulled out of the station in the mid-1990s. In recent years, the station has been inaccessible to the public. There's a security fence ringing the building because Sprint owns it and stores equipment in it.
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But lately, with the renaissance of downtown Phoenix, Sprint and the city's Historic Preservation Office are talking about what is the best use for the building.

"Now there's momentum for something to happen," said Barbara Stocklin, the city's historic preservation officer.

From the beginning, Phoenix's Union Station was designed to be a high-profile building in the city's core, Stocklin said.

"Downtown is at a crossroads and Sprint is at a crossroads - that's always good," Stocklin said.

"If Sprint's interested in doing something else, it's good timing."

Sitting on Harrison Street at Fourth Avenue, the station borders the southwestern fringe of downtown's warehouse district. Over the past several years, the district has slowly reinvented itself with a handful of galleries, restaurants and lofts.

"You could do just about anything with the station," Stocklin said.

It could be restored for its original use, she said, as a commuter rail station and a transportation hub with buses and taxis.

Four hundred and seventy-five feet long and 110 feet at its widest, the station has the potential to become a destination place, said Brian Kearney of the Downtown Phoenix Partnership, and could easily be a home for restaurants, a museum, galleries and retail.

Many Union Stations across the country have been demolished, but just as many cities have found ways to renovate and reuse the buildings. The name - Union Station - was created as a common name when the Southern Pacific railroad and the Santa Fe railroad consolidated their passenger depots into one "union" station.

Examples of how cities that have adaptively reused their stations are:


• Kansas City's Union Station is a science museum and Amtrak terminal, and has restaurants and shops.


• St. Louis's Union Station has a light-rail stop outside and has a shopping mall and hotel.


• Temple, Texas, has converted its rail station into a transportation museum and Amtrak stop.


• Dallas' Union Terminal is now a transportation center for Amtrak, light rail and commuter rail.


• Los Angeles' Union Passenger Terminal still services Amtrak, as well as heavy commuter rail, and has restaurants and shopping.


• Tucson's rail station is now an Amtrak stop, museum and retail center.


• Flagstaff's rail station is now an Amtrak stop, regional tourist bureau and car-rental station.

Many of these conversions, Stocklin said, have been accomplished with federal transportation enhancement funds, a required set-aside program from federal highway dollars since 1991.

These dollars are still available, Stocklin said, and could potentially be used for a conversion of Phoenix's Union Station as well.

Phoenix's is on the city's Historic Register.

"The best thing is they've (Sprint) maintained the building," Stocklin said. "They've been the steward of the building."
^ Good news overall. However, I hope "transportation" remains a primary focus.

If commuter rail is ever truly instigated, a legitimate link between it and our new light-rail system is a must. Some dandy new museum and more touristy retail shouldn't be the only use (or priority).
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Old Posted Dec 13, 2006, 4:08 PM
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It would be silly to turn the train station into an "attraction" without it being a functioning station. I worry that downtown Phoenix is focusing too much on tourist-type attractions that will draw locals only once to see them. How about making the attraction a real functioning downtown?

I do like the idea of integrating the capitol more into downtown. It needs to be part of downtown, not adjacent to it. The article does raise the valid point, however, that with the state's small-government (small everything, really) mentality, about the last thing that would ever be done on a grand scale would be government buildings.
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Old Posted Dec 13, 2006, 4:16 PM
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It would be silly to turn the train station into an "attraction" without it being a functioning station..
I don't know, like I said Union Station in St Louis is pretty full of life, and its not a functioning station. But I agree, I'd rather have it be a station, but if that can't happen, I don't want it to be a deal breaker.

People keep complaining about individual projects like this, or CityScape and saying they aren't the solution. While I agree to a point, it seems to me that once you have a certain number of projects like this all in one area, then you have a downtown that will attract people.
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Old Posted Dec 13, 2006, 4:30 PM
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Isn't Madison St Jail very close to there as well? That probably won't be very appealing to people who might want to visit the area.
Yeah, Madison St. and 4th Avenue Jail are right there. That part of Jackson has been inundated with county back office space too. But, there's always the potential to make it better. The Icehouse is also real close.

The thing that I still can't get over is the fact that passenger rail dosen't run through Phoenix anymore. It boggles the mind.
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Old Posted Dec 13, 2006, 5:38 PM
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The lack of AMTRAK service drives me insane. There's a lot of reasons to explain this, but the bottom line is that there wasn't sufficient popular support to keep it going. If you had citizens writing their legislators (state and federal), and if you had enough visionaries in elected office, there would be train service and it could possibly integrated with local mass transit as Denver is doing.

I don't mean to start an argument here because no minds get changed in this forum. Still, this is where free-market ideology results in bad choices. The American right hates trains and seldom misses an opportunity to cut AMTRAK subsidies or ridicule the idea of trains. Instead we build freeways, which result in more sprawl, which results in more freeways, ad infinitum.

Rail is one way out of this madness. It can create density corridors, provide additional travel options, and increase tourism. Actual rail service to downtown Phoenix would be an incalculable boon in creating a regional center. Imagine the rail line running directly north of Sky Harbor being part of a passenger rail network. Or bullet trains to Tucson, the coast, or up the congested 1-17 corridor.

With our transportation options being reduced to flying and driving, we have a Hobson's choice of competing miseries. Driving to LA, e.g., gets hellish once you approach San Bernadino. Flying is like a case of slow strangulation where security necessity and crowded skies make the experience increasingly grim.

This forum is fairly small and inconsequential. But on one level, we're "navigators" of popular opinion because we actually think about transportation and urban issues. Without starting an argument, I wonder if we can actually see ourselves as a vanguard of informed urbanists.
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