South Central Light Rail project set to receive over $500m from Federal Transit Administration

PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- The South Central Light Rail project is on track, after clearing a major hurdle.

The project will get millions in funding from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), and Valley Metro and the City of Phoenix are now moving forward with a timeline to start work on the project. The project is now one step closer to securing over $500 million Federal money, and the city can start the so-called Engineering Phase, including working on streets to alleviate congestion, to continue this project.

"It's a lot of money involved, and what they've told us is that we're doing the right things, we're making the right progress and moving in the right direction," said Valley Metro CEO Scott Smith, in a phone interview.

People against the light rail got a win on Friday as well, as a judge ruled that a ballot initiative on the light rail slated for August can proceed, with the judge ruling that the group Building a Better Phoenix did not violate signature gathering laws. That ballot initiative will ask voters to kill all future light rail projects, including the one in South Phoenix.

"We're gonna support any chance to kill the light rail," said Celia Contreras We're gonna take any chance because the light rail is a pet project for a little group. It's a corruption."

Contreras, a business owner, is worried light rail construction would kill her business, but she wants money earmarked for the project to stay in South Phoenix.

"Three years of construction with limited traffic with a mess everywhere, barricades. Nobody wants to come to my business," said Contreras.

That court ruling, however, can be appealed, as the judge had ruled that paying per signature for petitions didn't violate state law because this was a city initiative, not a state initiative. Both sides, meanwhile, are digging in their heels.