Phoenix, Arizona’s METRO light rail will take advantage of the competitive market and gain the early insight of a contractor with a design-build delivery method for its 3.1-mile Central Mesa extension. This decision is a departure from METRO’s typical project delivery approach of design-bid-build, but it works in favor of building a quality product in this economy and in a way that supports the local business community.

“The challenging economy presents us with an opportunity to think creatively about how we move projects forward,” said METRO CEO Steve Banta. “A quality design/builder can help us navigate towards a successful project that will best serve the neighboring community and the public dollar. It will also benefit the project’s timeline.”

A strong benefit of the design-build approach is that the construction contractor will come on board early to work directly with the designer to build plans that are workable for both parties. Contractor expertise will also help to build a construction schedule that meets the needs of the agency, project, and community. “The City of Mesa supports the design-build option for the Central Mesa light rail extension,” Mesa Councilmember and METRO Board Vice Chairman Dennis Kavanaugh said. “It will advance the schedule and put Arizonans to work.”

The Central Mesa project team is now finalizing preliminary engineering. These plans will be delivered to a design-build team for further development in spring 2012. A Request for Qualifications, to initiate the Design-Build procurement, has been issued . Future project milestones remain intact. Utility relocation will begin in spring 2012 with the project to be complete in 2016.

The Central Mesa project is a 3.1-mile light rail extension that will travel east from the current end-of-line through downtown Mesa on Main Street to Mesa Drive. The extension will provide East Valley residents with greater connection to the regional transit system and help support the growth of downtown Mesa. For more information,

METRO develops and operates the region’s high-capacity transit system. The first 20-mile light rail line opened December 2008. METRO serves an average of 40,000 riders each weekday while also planning for six extensions that will create a 57-mile system by 2031. METRO had 1,258,711 total boardings in October, an eight percent increase over October 2010 and the highest in the system’s history. For more information, visit

Editor’s note: See our feature story on the METRO light rail system at