South Central Light Rail Construction: Here’s What You Need to Know

by Fara Illich
Spotlight Fara Illich December 20, 2019

More than 50,000 riders rely on light rail each day, according to Valley Metro, and the new extension will increase that capacity. (Photo: Lauren Potter)

The 5.5-mile, $1.35 billion light rail project linking south Phoenix to downtown and elsewhere in the Valley is now officially underway. Valley Metro started construction in October, with crews identifying and replacing underground utilities in the downtown area. Some sidewalks and roadways are already impacted.

Downtown Light Rail Construction Restrictions

  • Fifth Street between Jefferson and Washington streets — click for map
  • First Avenue between Madison and Jefferson streets — at least one lane will remain open
  • McKinley Street closed at Central Avenue — click for map
  • Central Avenue from Fillmore to Garfield streets — click for map

Temporary Schedule Change

Dec. 21, 2019 through Jan. 5, 2020: Light rail will operate on an adjusted schedule, arriving approximately every 24 minutes. Visit for more info.

When will the project be complete?

South Central Light Rail is expected to be operational in 2024.

Stay in the know

If you have any questions about light rail construction, or would like to sign up for the construction notification email list, please contact Julie Cruz Gilfillan at Also, a new mobile app will be launched by Valley Metro in early 2020 with traffic information and other project news. In the meantime, the website has all the latest construction notices, FAQs, information about business assistance and more.

What is the Downtown Hub?

The city block between Central and First avenues, Washington and Jefferson streets is known as the new Downtown Hub. In addition to the existing platform on First Avenue, which will remain, three new station platforms will be installed — bookending the block. Central Avenue between Washington and Jefferson streets will become a transit-only area, closed to auto traffic, and the new platforms will improve connectivity within the system.

How will businesses be supported during construction?

Valley Metro, the City of Phoenix and construction contractor, Kiewit, are committed to maintaining business access at all times. Designating safe routes for pedestrians with access to schools, businesses and homes is a priority. In addition, Valley Metro is conducting free business assessments, and can help out with special events, customized signage, marketing, accounting and financial planning. The South Central Extension and Downtown Hub have the largest budgets for business assistance needs to date.

What to expect during construction

  • Access maintained to businesses and residences
  • Notifications of construction activities
  • Some modifications to traffic lanes and sidewalks
  • Bus stops temporarily relocated
  • Work happening during the day and at night
  • Notification and coordination of temporary utility interruption

Things to look forward to

  • Easy light rail access to and from South Phoenix
  • Improved underground utilities
  • 21 new bus pullouts
  • 9 new stations with art by 18 different artists
  • New sidewalks
  • Dedicated bicycle lanes
  • Repaved streets
  • ~160 new trees

Slideshow of some of the new station art

Lincoln / Central Avenue Station (Rendering: Valley Metro)
Lincoln / First Avenue Station (Rendering: Valley Metro)
Downtown Hub - Washington Street (Rendering: Valley Metro)
Third Avenue Station (Rendering: Valley Metro)
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