Phase one of northwest Light Rail extension is complete

- It took $327 million and almost three years, but phase one of the northwest Phoenix Light Rail extension is finished and will open to the public on Saturday.

The Light Rail used to end at 19th Avenue and Montebello. Now there are three more stations and the train goes all the way to Dunlap and 19th Avenue.

I got a sneak peak at the Light Rail extension, riding it on Monday, with stations at 19th Avenue and Dunlap, 19th Avenue and Northern and 19th Avenue and Glendale.  Valley Metro estimates 5,000 people will ride it every day.

Gliding up 19th Avenue for just over three miles, the extension is going to make life a lot easier for a lot of people.

"This will open up their ability to get around the city. You don't have to have a car and this is an area where there is a lot of poverty and a lot of families don't have cars," said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton.

"Easy commute, safe and I don't have to worry about traffic times. Just hop on and go," said Christina Page.

Guadalupe Loya added, "Now I can take my daughters to school, the mall.. I am happy."

Both Guadalupe and Christina have 9-year-old daughters at Richard E. Miller Elementary School who contributed art to the new Light Rail station at Dunlap and 19th Avenue. 

Avril Loyas is called "School in the Jungle."

"Well, what I had in mind was to just make school fun, but still keep learning at school," she said.

And 9-year-old Laura Page's airplane is called "My School Flies." Back on the train, she told us the Light Rail extension gives her a new sense of freedom.

"I think it is cool now. We don't have to wait for my dad at 7:30, we can take this Light Rail to go to the Diamondbacks game."

There's also a 415-space park and ride lot at 19th Avenue and Dunlap. Valley Metro plans to extend the Light Rail to Metrocenter by 2023 and there are plans for service to Grand Canyon University and Arizona State University West by 2026.

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