Arizona planners eye passenger rail linking Phoenix, Tucson

September 8, 2015

State transportation planners who studied multiple options for proposed passenger train service between Phoenix and Tucson are recommending one that would follow largely existing freight railroad tracks and serve both Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix and downtown Tucson.

A draft environmental impact statement released by the Arizona Department of Transportation last week recommends routing passenger trains generally along existing Union Pacific Corp. tracks north of Eloy in southern Pinal County and along UP tracks and Interstate 10 between Eloy and Tucson.
It also envisions possible future extensions from downtown Tucson to Tucson International Airport and from central Phoenix to locations west and northwest of downtown.
Other options studied by the transportation department at various times during a planning process that has already lasted four years included routing the proposed passenger service through the city of Maricopa or the Gila River Indian Community, both south of Phoenix or along the Superstition Freeway in the Tempe-Mesa area.
The recommended option had cost and performance advantages, the document said.
Passenger rail service would help provide reliable travel times “in an increasingly congested region that currently affords few transportation alternatives to the automobile,” according to the transportation department document.

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