[Source: Catherine Reagor, Arizona Republic] — The message delivered by top Valley real-estate and government leaders Tuesday at an annual growth conference at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa was twofold: the Valley needs to invest billions in transportation and create more jobs closer to housing communities if it wants to handle the 6 million people expected to move here by 2050.
The Urban Land Institute and Valley Partnership conference drew more than 500 people who gathered to hear the results of a growth exercise held in May aptly called Reality Check. The goal of that exercise, the first of its kind in the Valley, was to come up with ways to better handle growth. Among the key findings:
- A $25 billion investment is needed in transportation, which would mean a sales-tax increase of 1.3 cents per dollar over the next 20 years.
- 70% of transportation funding should go to light rail, commuter rail, and bus service and the remaining 30% to new freeways.
- Most participants believe there needs to be a commuter-rail line connecting Phoenix to Tucson.
- About 75% of new housing must be developed beyond the 101 and 202 freeways.
- One-third of the new homes will likely need to go up in Pinal County.