ADOT finds passenger rail input at county fair - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

ADOT finds passenger rail input at county fair

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The Pima County Fair attracted thousands of people in its first two days and some of those fair goers provided input for a proposed passenger rail from Tucson to Phoenix. 

Mike Kies, with Arizona Department of Transportation, said it's important for the department to engage people while they're already at events rather than host something specific for the proposed project. 

"Whatever comments the public would provide us, whether they're in favor of the idea or opposed to the idea or maybe they have better ideas than we have, that's really why we're out here talking to the public," he said Saturday.

Donald Sanchez and his family stopped by the booth to learn more about the plan. He said a similar rail seems to be successful in neighboring New Mexico, so it would be nice to see one in Arizona.

"You don't have to worry about drive time, gas or any of the struggles of driving yourself," Sanchez said.

Georgia Brousseau, who been driving frequently between Tucson and Phoenix for 50 years, said she supports any project that'll get her quickly and safely to Phoenix and back.

"It's one heck of a long drive," she said. "And it's a very boring drive."

For that reason, Brousseau said she favors the green line, one of three alternatives being proposed. Green is the more direct route to Phoenix. She said she expects an economic boost for the smaller towns that are designated stops on other routes, but she's just interested in a direct connection. 

Though most of the comments are positive, Kies said some folks are already thinking about the bottom line. 

"There have been some people that are worried about the cost and whether it's the right thing that we can be doing with money for transportation," said Kies. "That's the type of comments that we're looking for and why we're out here."

The public outreach process will be complete by the end of May, but ADOT will not be finished with public input. Public hearings will be scheduled for Pima, Pinal and Maricopa counties after a draft environmental impact statement is complete.

The department's study of this rail project started in 2011 including two previous public comment sessions, according to Kies. He said the hope is to have a final path chosen by the end of the year. There is no money currently identified for future studies or construction of the rail, which is estimated to cost billions of dollars.

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