Light rail train crossing Mill Avenue in Tempe

I was down in Tempe last month and saw the train cross Mill Avenue for the first time.

This is the Valley Metro Light Rail commuter train that goes from nowhere in the east - actually East Valley Institute of Technology, to Nowhere in the west - where Christown used to be. Between those two points the train disrupts a lot of traffic.

I go to Tempe frequently, and the new Tempe train station is right where I used to park. Recently the builders brought the train through slowly. They ran it from one end to the other and checked clearances and other details.

The train sat in the Tempe Light Rail station for about an hour as workers crawled all over it. Here’s a picture of the train in the Tempe Station:

Train in tempe station

After a long while the police closed off Mill Avenue and the train darted across.

Train on Mill Avenue

You can see the Hayden Flour Mill in the background.

They took the train back and forth accross mill avenue a few times. Here’s a shot of it coming back across from the east.

Train by Hayden Flour Mill

There are some BIG bumpers on the train. I guess they’ll need them for all the cars they’ll be hitting until drivers learn to watch for the train.

I heard the train will be back in Tempe for the July 4th weekend. I also heard it won’t be.

I heard the Train would be running regularly by December 2008, and also heard it will be 6 months late due to needed repairs of poorly constructed track.

3 Responses to “Light rail train crossing Mill Avenue in Tempe”

  1. Karen Taylor Says:

    Gary, this was all in the planning stages when we left Mesa. I’d forgotten all about it! Nice to see pictures. Are people really using it? Is it considered a “success”? I remember it being compared to BART in San Francisco, but I’m betting there are many more people in SF who live in apartments and do not own cars. I know the Valley’s “carless” is increasing, and that the bus system is “healthy,” but are enough people using the light rail to justify the tax? Just curious.

    Tulsa, our nearest city, is, on the other hand, hopelessly behind in all areas! They voted down, last year, a plan to develop the Arkansas River shore. I grew up in Tulsa and the Arkansas has never been much more than a muddy river that flooded from time to time. Development along the shore would never be like the Riverwalk in San Antonio, but look what the Lake did for Tempe! Folks who’ve never lived anywhere but Tulsa have little vision. It was a shame it was defeated, although I will admit that Tulsa does need street improvements, which was the reason given by most who voted “no.”

    Thanks for these pictures. I get “homesick” for the Valley sometimes, but not NOW! It’s green and cool here now (Claremore, OK).

  2. Karen Taylor Says:

    Well, I was so busy looking at the pictures that I skimmed over the fact that the system won’t be operational until late 2008 or beyond. Sorry!

  3. Spike D Punch Says:

    Nice photos! The 20-mile light rail starter line through Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa opened on December 27, 2008, as planned. There were some construction glitches, as with all large and complicated projects, that were quickly fixed. The big bumpers on the vehicle conceal the connector apparatus, provide a smooth aerodynamic shape, and flex in the case of collisions. The ridership on the system is greater than anticipated, and use is particularly high when large conventions flood downtown Phoenix with visitors. The stations are designed for 3-car consists, which can carry 600 passengers. The busiest station is the one in Mesa, at the current east end of the line, which collects riders from several bus lines and an adjacent large park-and-ride lot. There is still plenty of parking in Tempe–try the public lot at 5th Ave. and Maple, which gives easy access to businesses on Mill Avenue.

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