PHOENIX-The City Council approved a light-rail route that will run the commuter train next to major downtown sports and entertainment attractions and office towers. The light-rail will run between downtown Phoenix and Sky Harbor International Airport, mainly on Jefferson Street going east and Washington Street going west, and then to the suburb of Tempe.

The route runs the light-rail near such downtown venues as: Central Station, Bank One Building, Arizona Center, Maricopa County Courts, Patriots Square, Civic Plaza, America West Arena, Bank One Ballpark, the Arizona Science Center, Orpheum Theater, Herberger Theater, and the Collier Center.

Businesses along Van Buren Street, which is a quarter-mile north of Washington, had wanted the light-rail to run along that street, hoping that it would boost economic development along the depressed thoroughfare. But a study by the city showed that it would cost $69 million less to build on the one-way streets of Jefferson and Washington and provide better access to most downtown areas.

The section through Phoenix is only part of the 25-mile corridor of light-rail that will connect Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa. The projected alignment runs the rail through north Phoenix near Metro Center Mall, by Sky Harbor International Airport, through downtown Tempe by Arizona State University and into downtown Mesa. The estimated cost for the rail is projected to be more than $49 million per mile. Voters in Phoenix approved a sales tax increase to pay for the new line.

Construction of the line is expected to begin next year.

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