On April 19, Phoenix City Council approved $50 million to put together a design plan to extend the city’s light rail system into South Phoenix. Design and pre-planning is expected to take two years and would eventually lead into a $704 million expansion of the light rail. The extension would run south along Central Avenue, starting at Jefferson Street and ending at Baseline Road, connecting Central City and the South Mountain Village

The extension, which would add 4.9 miles and seven stations to the Valley Metro Rail system, would be a boon to the surrounding communities in those areas, who have historically been underserved in regards to public transit. The effect that light rail could have on the region in terms of development and growth was also a strong consideration of the proposal.

Early plans call for completion of the light rail extension by 2023. It’s also one of a few expansion plans in the works: New light rail extensions that run in every other direction, as well as a connection to Glendale, are in various stages of development.