A light rail extension on Central Avenue in South Phoenix will have a long-lasting, positive impact on community health in South Phoenix. That’s not just an opinion, that comes from a scientific and detailed 2015 Health Impact Assessment by the Maricopa County Department of Public Health and the Arizona Alliance for Livable Communities.
The South Central Neighborhoods Transit Health Impact Assessment concludes that a thoughtfully planned transportation plan that includes a light rail extension in South Phoenix will result in positive long-term health outcomes for residents, including lowering rates of chronic disease, improving pregnancy outcomes, and reducing violent deaths.
The City of Phoenix’s current transportation plan has been developed over a decade and approved by voters 3 times. The public has been heavily engaged in this planning effort which has included more than 500 public meetings held to gather input.
Proposition 105 will dismiss this planning and prohibit Phoenix from investing in any kind of rail project – including light rail, commuter rail, or other potential train connections despite the fact that light rail extension have a long-lasting positive public health impact and reinforce the positive aspects of the community.
The Existing Transportation Plan is Good
Four years ago, Phoenix voters passed Proposition 104, a comprehensive transportation plan that included input from public health stakeholders. The plan incorporated evidence-based provisions to improve many facets of transportation – including things to make transportation easier for folks with disabilities and improving opportunities for physical activity with more walkable and bike-able transportation options.
The voter approved plan extended Phoenix’s existing 4/10ths of a cent transportation sales tax (originally passed in 2000) and increased it by 3/10ths of a cent to:
Greatly enhancing Dial-a-Ride for persons with disabilities;
Add 1,150 new bike lanes;
Add 170 miles of new sidewalks;
Increase bus frequency by 70%;
Increase transit hours of operation by 20%;
Invest $280 million for new roads and bridges;
Repair 750 miles of asphalt streets; and
Increase investments in light rail.
Phoenix’s existing Plan is well-balanced to provide various services based on differing community needs, contributing to improved transportation flexibility options and improving social determinants of health related to transportation.
For example, the existing transportation plan includes substantial investment in new transportation options in South Phoenix including a light rail extension. That’s important because South Phoenix households are four times more likely to not have a car compared to other households throughout the Valley.
The existing plan also enhances public transit services to South Phoenix and provides families with convenient access to key destinations such as work and school. In fact, over 70% of South Phoenix residents voted in favor of the current transportation plan.
For all these reasons the Arizona Public Health Association urges Phoenicians to VOTE NO on Proposition 105. Our health depends on it.