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Light rail boosts downtowns, PAG Director Gary Hayes says on Arizona Illustrated

I was part of a panel that interviewed Pima Association of Governments Executive Director Gary Hayes on Arizona Illustrated tonight, KAET Channel 6.

He addressed several issues including the recent spat between the Regional Transportation Authority (which he also heads) and the city over so-called “soft costs” associated with some road construction. While RTA funds many regional road projects, each individual jurisdiction handles the bidding, design and construction.

The RTA has been slightly miffed that the city has had 24 public meetings on the 22nd Street railroad overpass reconstruction and will soon have its 25th, Hayes said tonight. Hayes and the PAG/RTA board want to create some standards for public outreach and other costs that don’t have anything to do with actual construction costs. In other words, RTA doesn’t want to have to pay for all of the city’s public relations efforts or a council member’s efforts to appease angry Ward constituents, perhaps.

In answering a question about the status of the light rail, he said the project is a go and the new rail cars have been ordered. But in a followup about whether the street car will benefit the downtown hotel, or vice versa, he dodged the question some, saying that’s a question for the city, but then said all the cities that have recently built light rail have seen a boost to their downtown economies.

I asked him why the I-10 bypass wasn’t included in the recently completed 30-year transportation plan and the high-speed rail line to Phoenix was when both will cost two fortunes and each are equally speculative in terms of whether they’ll ever be built.

He said various constituencies involved in drafting the plan, as well as the PAG members, which include representatives from all the county, state and municipal governments, considered the bypass controversial but all agreed on high speed rail. I’ll leave that one alone for the time being.

The video is about 15 mintues.

CREDIT: Arizona Public Media/Arizona Illustrated
CAPTION: PAG Director Gary Hayes on Arizona Illustrated Friday
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