This proposal suggests that the fastest, most economical way to provide clean, safe, efficient rapid transit for the metropolitan Phoenix area is to build a rail system over the existing canals.
Why build a transit system at all?
As any commuter will attest, getting to and from work or to shopping can be a daunting undertaking in the Phoenix area. In addition, the constant stopping and starting contributes greatly to air pollution levels as well as wear and tear on vehicles. Rail transit provides a comfortable, fast method for travel to work, shopping, and sports events. In addition, commercial centers located at or near the rail stations provide necessary services for workers which might otherwise require time off work to obtain. Wouldn't it be great to drop off the kids at day care, laundry at the cleaners, the car at the shop all on your way to work? And returning home, to be able to do shopping or enjoy dinner or a movie nearby or even AT the station? Imagine...
Additionally, train systems provide opportunities for the work force to obtain highly skilled, well paying jobs ranging from mechanics and engineers to train operators. Industry benefits by supplying parts and maintenance supplies as well as increased attendance in the workplace due to a reliable source of transportation for everyone. Taxi companies would have clearly defined pickup and drop off points to maximize their effectiveness as secondary transportation. Imagine getting off the plane at Sky Harbor, getting right onto a train at the airport and taking a cab the short distance to your home for less than the amount it would take to park for a day!!!
Why build over the canalways?
The usual arguments against public rail transit are primarily that the system does not afford the flexibility of a car, or that the rail system doesn't provide adequate access to residences, airports, business, sports or shopping centers. Careful study of the map provided show that the canal system, already in place, passes by and connects many of these hubs.
SRP already owns the right-of-way for these routes, and since they would be providing the power, they seem a likely proponent of this system.
Connecting links to provide loops could be constructed in the center meridian of the existing freeway system and would not, necessarily, diminish the usable roadway. Studies have shown that a single commuter rail line carries as much passenger traffic as a 4 four lane highway.
Since there are no houses or commercial buildings occupying the space over the canals, the savings to implement this system would be in the BILLIONS... and since there are no structures to clear, construction could commence immediately!
Wasting water via evaporation in the desert is nearly a cardinal sin. Perhaps a way to mitigate or eliminate this waste would be to cap the canals so that rail may be laid directly on the canal 'roof'. In those areas where the public enjoys the experience of an open waterway, with the odor and pests (or cost of pest management) as an added benefit, a locality could be offered the option of spending for an elevated railway through their neighborhood. The elevated trackways would provide shade for the canals themselves, and would thereby reduce evaporation of this most precious resource, albeit not as much as an enclosure. The canal CAP could be engineered in such a way as to create 3 independent channels or 'pipes' that can be individually closed off to allow access for maintenance and removal of sediment.
The trackway would only take up as much real estate as the actual open canal does now, leaving the 'banks' of the canals free to use as they are now.
If the system is constructed such that the cars are alternatively powered by hydrogen and built to operate on standard rail gauges, additional benefits surface. Placing solar cell material between the tracks and on every flat surface pointing skyward (station roofs, rail cars, pedestrian overpasses) would provide more than 200 miles of PV collectors which could provide power to crack water molecules into FREE hydrogen and oxygen. SRP can generate the hydrogen from water, and sell the byproduct (Oxygen) to industry. The lines themselves, since the cars could travel on standard rail, could be extended North and South to Tucson and the Verde Valley and beyond with ease.
The federal government could be an interested party in this endeavor... and might be willing to provide up to half of the cost of such a system... especially if the rail lines were placed in the meridians of Interstate Freeways.
Ongoing Maintenance Costs
A rail system supports it's own maintenance due to the fact that it only carries paying passengers. Freeways and streets ONLY cost taxpayers year after year.