Community Assistance in Phoenix: Linking the Southside

Light rail will play an important role in Phoenix's future.

Visiting planners from across the country and abroad will get involved with the city’s next planned light rail extension along South Central Avenue as part of the Community Planning Workshop at this year's National Planning Conference.

For the last 15 years, APA’s professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP), has organized the workshop to give conference attendees a unique opportunity to engage with local planners, residents, and other stakeholders on a real planning project. 

This year's workshop takes place on Saturday, April 2, 2016. 

Just this month, another three-mile extension of the Valley Metro light rail system opened in northwest Phoenix with the expectation of adding at least 5,000 more daily riders upon opening. The new Central Avenue extension will stretch five miles to the south and connect another key part of the city. The new line will increase access to the beautiful Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area that stretches along five miles of the Salt River.

The rail line will also lead riders to the amazing South Mountain Park — one of the largest municipally operated parks in the United States with over 16,000 acres — and the great neighborhoods and historic buildings across the Southside.

Phoenix's South Central Avenue corridor will experience change with the introduction of the new transit rail line. Southside neighborhoods, the commercial corridor along Central Avenue, surrounding parks and open spaces, historic structures, pedestrian traffic ways, and other area features will all undergo examination under this new context. 

With a route and station map for the rail extension now in place, the planning process can now take a more granular look, particularly the walkable areas surrounding stations. 

Community Planning Workshop participants will assist with this process. City staff and other local stakeholders will present background information and bring everyone up to speed. They’ll also provide a guided tour of the area. 

Planners from all over will work with local participants to brainstorm and generate new ideas, find potential solutions to challenges different areas may present, and highlight available opportunities. 

The Community Planning Workshop is part of APA’s Community Assistance Program, which also includes the Community Planning Assistance Teams (CPAT) program. If you’re interested in volunteering your skills and expertise as a way of giving back to communities in need, APA encourages you to fill out the online volunteer form today. Learn more and get involved.

AICP Community Planning Workshop
Saturday, April 2
8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

There are two sessions during the conference where team members and community members will discuss their recent CPAT projects.

CPAT Dispatches: Struggling Towns
Sunday, April 3
2:30–3:45 p.m.

Equity Planning: Exploring Insider/Outsider Dynamics
Monday, April 4
2:45–4:00 p.m.

About the Author

Ryan Scherzinger is APA Programs Manager, Professional Practice.

Image: Phoenix Metro Light Rail, Tri-City Station.

March 22, 2016

By Ryan Scherzinger, AICP