PHOENIX – The Arizona Department of Transportation’s Passenger Rail Corridor Study has received a great amount of attention and support since the study kicked off more than two years ago. ADOT reached out to members of the public during the course of the study to keep them informed and to get their feedback on how passenger rail between Phoenix and Tucson would best serve communities.
In recognition for these efforts, today the Arizona Chapter of the American Planning Association presented members of ADOT’s rail study team with an award for the best public outreach at its annual conference in Scottsdale.
ADOT held two major rounds of public outreach during the past two years to gather input on the study. A third round of public outreach is set to begin in early October.
ADOT uses a number of different communication tools and strategies to keep the public, stakeholders, local governments, planning organizations, and state and federal agencies informed about the passenger rail study. Outreach efforts include dozens of events in Maricopa, Pinal and Pima counties, stakeholder meetings, nearly 7,000 surveys completed in-person and online, news releases, media interviews, blog posts and the use of social media.
ADOT focused on creating a presence at community events within the study area instead of relying solely on stand-alone agency meetings to get the word out about the rail study. Interactive booths and displays are used at local community events and festivals, allowing members of the public to learn about and provide input on the study. Comments are always being accepted throughout the course of the study.
“The idea of a passenger rail line that connects Phoenix and Tucson has received a high level of interest since the study began, so communication with all types of stakeholders has been extremely important,” said ADOT Director John Halikowski. “ADOT engaged the public through a variety of means, but most importantly, we went out to the communities to provide them with updates and get their thoughts and ideas of how passenger rail would be most effective in connecting Arizona’s two largest metropolitan areas.”
In July, ADOT narrowed the list of rail alternatives to three and is now moving forward with the Green Alternative, which would run along Interstate 10 between the two metropolitan areas; the Orange Alternative, which would serve East Valley population centers and share part of its alignment with the planned North-South Freeway Corridor; and the Yellow Alternative, which would also serve East Valley communities and share right of way with Union Pacific Railroad north of Eloy, where appropriate. All three alternatives would run along I-10 south of Eloy.
Now that the three final alternatives have been identified for further study, ADOT and the study team will move forward with the Draft Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement. There will be a 45-day public comment period early next year, along with three public hearings, that will address the Draft Environmental Impact Statement and allow the public and stakeholders to comment on the document. ADOT is working toward establishing one preferred alternative for further study and is expected to wrap up the study next year.
For more information about ADOT’s Passenger Rail Corridor Study, visit azdot.gov/passengerrail.