buying land along Pecos Road
The Ahwatukee Foothills News
the South Mountain Freeway in the West Valley to Interstate 10 at Loop 101 is
the best of three options proposed by the state, the South Mountain Citizens
Advisory Team concluded this week.
The team reached its decision, which was not unanimous, after a Thursday night
debate that echoed some of the "not in my backyard" arguments
Ahwatukee Foothills residents have made against the proposed Pecos Road
After listening to residents of West Valley communities object to alignments
closest to their homes, one team member from Ahwatukee spoke.
"Everybody wants to point at the other
options. We don't have another option," Laurel Arndt said.
After four years of meetings, the team formally recommended the Loop 101
connection to the Arizona Department of Transportation.
The team's suggestion is only one factor ADOT will consider before issuing a
final decision on the west side in June. The state could choose another route.
The vote went against the original proposal at 55th Avenue, the alignment
favored by the Maricopa Association of Governments and cities in the freeway's
path. Last year, landowners along the 55th Avenue route hired a public relations
firm to lobby for the connection there.
In the original alignment that MAG approved in 1988, the South Mountain Freeway
ran south from Interstate 10 around 55th Avenue, curved east at South Mountain
Park and followed Pecos Road to I-10 on the southeastern edge of Ahwatukee.
A federal study begun in 2001 required ADOT to review multiple options for the
By 2003, the choices were narrowed to the three that the team voted on Thursday
night: 55th Avenue, 71st Avenue and Loop 101.
Before the vote, Tolleson representative David Lafferty argued passionately
against the Loop 101 alignment. The 6-square-mile city could lose as much as 370
acres if the freeway is connected there.
"It could be something that would eventually pull the rug right out from
under us, and we'd never recover," he said.
Team members from areas that could be affected by the 55th Avenue link balked at
the idea of a 10-lane freeway going through their neighborhoods.
"People in Laveen do not want it on the 55th, because it's going to go
right through our community," said Doris French of Laveen. "We don't
want to be the sacrificial lamb."
Peggy Eastburn of Phoenix's Estrella village said the original route runs too
close to valuable fuel tanks.
Though it would cost about $1.7 billion to build the freeway at 55th Avenue,
compared to up to $2.4 billion at Loop 101, "Just because it's cheaper
doesn't mean it's better," she said.
Team members who don't live in the West Valley also saw value in the 101 link.
"We've got to have flow-through traffic, and to me, that's the 101,"
said Kris Black of Ahwatukee.
There was no simple show of hands for the three choices. The 15 members present
spent an hour ranking different qualities such as cost and community cohesion,
and then voting on how well each alignment met those criteria.
Vote totals were projected on a screen at Thursday's meeting. The software used
kept the votes anonymous. The reasoning behind some votes was not immediately
For example, although the Loop 101 connection is empirically more expensive,
several members voted it as the best choice, costwise.
"That's one of the troubling factors in witnessing this," ADOT
spokesman Matt Burdick said. ADOT will meet with regional, federal and city
officials in coming months to analyze the different alignments before issuing a