Phoenix council votes to move forward with light-rail expansion

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PHOENIX (AP) - A special meeting of the Phoenix City Council was called to mull the future of a planned light-rail expansion into a working class Latino and African-American community.

Council members voted 6-2 to move forward with the light-rail expansion plan which will include two lanes.

The meeting to discuss the 5.5-mile (8.9-kilometer) extension that voters approved several years ago took place at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Council members reviewed a three-month outreach effort to gather views on the current plan, which would eliminate two of four lanes on the Central Avenue thoroughfare.

Some business owners said that eliminating two car traffic lanes will hurt business and called for all four lanes to be preserved.

City officials say that since June bilingual staff members have visited more than 5,000 homes, businesses and organizations and held six community meetings that drew hundreds of people, ultimately voting to stick with the original two-lane expansion.

The light rail will go down Central from Washington to Baseline with one lane on each side and extend 5.5 miles, and since the deadlines for the federal transit administration will be met, the federal funding of $595 million remains.

Construction is expected to be completed in 2023.