Valley Metro tests light rail extension with water bottles

Water bottles came in handy Thursday morning as Valley Metro tested out some light rail cars for their planned expansion into Mesa.

Instead of passengers on board, tons of water bottles filled the rail cars.

Valley Metro hopes to open the Central Mesa light rail extension in August, but before that happens the new line needs to be tested, and that is where these 210,000 pounds of water bottles come in handy.

"We brainstormed some ideas on how to load the train, it is supposed to be loaded with 35,700 pounds per car, which is about 180 adults on the train at a time," said Chris Chaffe.

Valley Metro conductors are making sure the 3.1-mile extension is safe. So they loaded 105 tons of water onto the trains, that's 184,000 bottles. The bottles were loaded onto the cars at the Valley Metro Operations and Maintenance Center. The goal, to test the power on the new route.

"Our test is to load the train as if it were loaded with people, at the end of the day we get to donate the water, we're meeting 50% of their water needs for this summer," said Chafe.

When the testing wraps up, all of the bottled water will be donated to the United Food Bank.

"How exciting, I'm so glad we're gonna have water, and people are not gonna be dehydrated in our community... what a win-win situation for the entire community" said Melissa Forrester with the United Food Bank.

Testing runs through Monday. The project is months ahead of schedule, Valley Metro hopes to extend the light rail service on August 22nd.