Arizona Rail Open House May 30th, 1998
Saturday, 30 May 1998, 1:00pm
Scottsdale Ramada Valley Ho Conference Ctr.
Guest Speaker: Mary Peters, Director, Arizona Department of Transportation
Special Guest: Gil Mallery, President, Amtrak West
ADOT has recently completed the first phase of the Arizona High Speed Rail Feasibility Study, and has accepted ARPA’s offer to take the Study to the next phase of implementation. The first phase of the Study recommends an initial phase of minor upgrades to the existing rail line, using conventional diesel-electric locomotives and push- pull style passenger cars. Incremental upgrades â€” grade separations and higher operating speeds â€” would be made as ridership develops and funding becomes available. The final phase would be a partially elevated, exclusive right-of-way, high speed rail electric passenger service between Phoenix and Tucson.
Mary Peters, Director of the Arizona Department of Transportation, on May 30 addressed over fifty ARPA members and guests. Ms. Peters has been with ADOT for 13 years and was Deputy Director for 5 years before being appointed to Director by Governor Jane Hull.
She said her mission was “taking the Department into the next Century” and this includes an emphasis on multi-modalism. Since the Department of Highways changed its name to the Department of Transportation in 1974, she said, it is disappointing that it has taken so long for the agency to embrace ideas other than highways.
Ms. Peters announced that Governor Hull will appoint a “Blue Ribbon” panel to study the next 25 years’ need for transportation in Arizona. Rail will be an important element, as highway capacity is becoming cost-prohibitive.
Of the recently issued High Speed Phoenix-Tucson Rail study, Ms. Peters said the Minor Upgrade is the most cost-effective, can be in place first, and can be used to generate additional interest in passenger rail.
The Study examined the feasibility of rail compared to widening I-10. Each day 35,000 vehicles travel I-10 between Tucson and Phoenix, and half go the full route. Traffic is expected to grow 67% by 2020, with a third being trucks. ADOT says I-10 will have to be widened to six lanes by 2005 and to eight lanes by 2020. Ms. Peters’ opinion that “we should not widen highway corridors to 8, 10, and 12 lanes. We need to look at a maximum highway configuration of 6 lanes” drew a round of applause, as did her comment, “Highways are not going to meet our transportation needs in the future.”
After considering a No-Build scenario, Highway Widening, and several rail options, the High Speed Study arrived at a long-term vision of:
- In final phase: Implement a partially elevated, exclusive right-of-way, high speed electric passenger rail service using the existing UP Railroad alignment between Phoenix and Tucson.
- In initial phase: Implement minor upgrades to the existing UP railroad, using conventional diesel-electric locomotives and push-pull style passenger cars.
- Future upgradesâ€¦ will be implemented incrementally, as ridership develops, and funding becomes available.
The “Minor Upgrade” using the UP railroad right-of-way would cost $378 million to construct, compared to $3.76 billion for the final phase of partially elevated, high-speed electric rail. The “Minor Upgrade” is especially attractive when compared to the “Highway Widening” cost of over $1.4 billion.
Ms. Peters, on April 16, wrote ARPA President Rob Bohannan, “ADOT gratefully accepts your association’s offer to take the lead role in moving the recently completedâ€¦ Study to the next level of implementation. ADOT staff and the High Speed Rail Task Force are currently working on the study completion package to be submitted to Governor Hull, and should have the details completed and the material delivered by the end of [April]. â€¦In addition, my staff will have limited non-financial ability to assist your association in moving forward on the study conclusions.”
Special Guest: Gil Mallery, President, Amtrak West
Mr. Mallery said that Amtrak has traditionally ignored trains within States, which are the future of rail in our country.
Mr. Mallery said that both he and Mary Peters of ADOT have now established a working rapport which will surely enable Amtrak West to and ADOT to enter into future service agreements; and that Amtrak West has also annexed the states of Nevada, Utah, Idaho and Arizona into its operations system and will begin operating TALGO tilt trains between Los Angeles and Las Vegas by Spring 1999.
He feels that a passenger train route between Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Tucson has potential for success.
ARPA hopes to move ahead and pursue the High Speed Study, the 1993 JLSC study, our Arizona Rail proposal, the Valley Connections light-rail proposal, and other opportunities for passenger rail in Arizona.
At this critical time, the Board encourages all ARPA members to get involved. All our Committees – Governmental Affairs, Public Relations, and Finance – will be working to make rail a reality. Please pick up the phone today and call 480/947-5710. Get on board!