Valley Metro Expansion Program

Location Phoenix, AZ

Client Valley Metro Rail, Inc.

Services Construction Management, Program Management

Project Value $6.9 billion

Hill is providing program management and construction management services to support Valley Metro’s expansion program. The program will deliver an additional 40 miles of high capacity/light rail corridors and a streetcar project in Tempe. In total, Valley Metro is responsible for delivering more than $6.9 billion in regional transit improvements through 2034.
Specific projects the Hill team supports include:

South Central Light Rail Transit Project: This five mile light rail extension along Central and 1st Avenues connecting from Washington/Jefferson Streets south to Baseline Road is scheduled to open in 2034. Scope will include seven stations and four flared intersections. A key challenge for the project will be the grade separation with Union Pacific Railroad, which involves a historic bridge.

Capitol/I-10 West Light Rail Transit Project: This 11 mile light rail extension running west from downtown Phoenix by the State Capitol area to the I-10 freeway ending at 79th Avenue is part of the Phoenix West Locally Preferred Alternative. This project is estimated to be complete in 2023. Work includes 12 new stations, a new Park-and-Ride facility, and a crossing of the proposed South Mountain Freeway. 

West Phoenix/Central Glendale Light Rail Transit Project: This project entails a five mile study area running northwest into downtown Glendale. Transit mode and exact route are yet to be confirmed. Scheduled to open in 2026, the leading alternative has been recommended, which includes seven potential stations. 

Northwest Phase II Light Rail Transit Extension: A two mile extension running west along Dunlap Avenue and then north and west across I-17 to the Metrocenter Mall area, Phase II of this project was recently added to the Regional Transportation Plan, and is scheduled to open in 2023. The project will require close coordination with the Arizona Department of Transportation and may involve an underground station facility as well. Work may include a new Transit Center, four stations, and a new Park-and-Ride facility. A major challenge for this project is the grade separation with I-17. Alternative solutions may include a cut-and-cover tunnel.

50th Street Station Projects: This project is located just west of the bridge into Tempe and would be the last station in Phoenix. Work will involve major utility relocations, including a high-pressure gas line, strict ADA compliance to accommodate likely end users from an area care and rehabilitation center and will require careful construction phasing, including overnight work windows.

Tempe Streetcar Projects: The Tempe Streetcar project provides a commuting solution for the City of Tempe by connecting a residential area at Apache Boulevard, across from the Arizona State University campus in Downtown Tempe, with Rio Salado Parkway at a busy commercial/business center terminus. The Streetcar also enables intermodal connection with Valley Metro’s light rail system at Mill Avenue and Apache Boulevard.

This CM-at-Risk project installed a total of 6.3 miles of rail, with 3.8 miles of single and double track segments, 7 single turnouts, and 2 crossovers. As streetcar track is shared with local traffic, the project also necessitated 19 grade crossings in downtown Tempe. In addition, the streetcar stops at 14 new stations, each featuring installation artwork from local artists. An overhead catenary system (OCS) provides power for the streetcar, delivered by three traction power substations. These substations are adorned with high-finish architectural wall panels to complement the local urban streetscape. In addition, for a length of track running from Mill Avenue to Tempe Beach Park, the streetcar runs on battery power, eliminating the OCS and preserving Downtown Tempe’s uncluttered character.

To help realize the project as planned, the Hill team worked in close collaboration with the City of Tempe government and the contractor to solve problems in the field, keep the project on budget, and meet schedule requirements. A highlight of the team’s work was change management support, as $14 million in contract change orders were made over the three-year construction phase of the project. These modifications included Issued for Bid-to-Issue for Construction adjustments, roundabout construction, and the Dorsey power switches—which were designed during construction to upgrade Valley Metro’s light rail system.

Hill also managed hundreds of conflicts between the OCS with both underground and overhead utilities. Similarly, we helped to identify and resolve conflicts between the Streetcar track slab and the existing road geometry and the local drainage system, which encompassed additional grading and paved areas beyond the original design. Additional power connections between local providers and service entry systems were made during construction as well. In each case, the team discussed design and construction methods, with Hill providing independent cost estimates to provide clarity and increase cost certainly.

Another key area where Hill directly contributed to project success was through design evaluation support. Reviewing designs during construction, we identified modifications such as simplified traffic signals and streetlight connections, unnecessary catch basins, duct bank changes, and even contract allowance adjustments. Our work resulted in a $4 million credit to the project. The team also contributed to Integration Test Coordination for the project, as well as Safety & Security Certification.

Operations and Maintenance Center Expansion Project: The $90 million, design-build Operations and Maintenance Center Expansion Project (OMCEXP) delivered yard and shop facilities to accommodate 40 new vehicles along with all associated maintenance and service space requirements, including critical infrastructure upgrades. Now completed, the expansion enables Valley Metro to maintain a fleet of approximately 90 vehicles, compared to the former capacity of 50 vehicles. Hill provided project management and resident engineering support for the OMCEXP.

The project included adding 35,500 SF of Maintenance and Operations (MOE) space and 25,000 SF of working area to the Maintenance of Way (MOW) buildings. The yard itself was raised using a mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) wall and engineered fill to add 3 new, 1,500 LF storage tracks, and 5 new service bays were added in the MOE. In addition, work in the yard included 6,600 LF of new trackwork, and greater flexibility and movement was delivered by adding 16 new turnouts and adjusting 3 switches to maximize geometry in the yard. Construction of these elements was achieved in an active yard, without disrupting mainline revenue service.

The project also revamped the cooling systems in the MOW and MOE buildings, and especially in the shop spaces for the light rail vehicle (LRV) mechanics. The MOE now cools 174,000 SF of shop space to 75 F year-round with a fresh air ERV / ARU cooling tower system. The project also added an additional substation to the yard, replaced train wash equipment, improved system safety by installing a new sanding system for the LRVs, and added two new cleaning platforms. Notably, these systems needed to allow for two new dynamic vehicle envelopes: the Siemens LRVs and the Brookville streetcars, as well as accommodate the current Kinkisharyo LRVs for clearance and safety in the shop and yard.

Upgrade and repair elements of the project included correcting the tension of the OCS in the yard, replacing failing components, and bringing the overall facility to a state of good repair, all while maintaining operations for vehicles and staff.