|Ahwahtuke Foothills, 10/03/2001|
Freeway Location Subject of 3-Year Study
|By Doug Murphy Staff Writer
A three-year environmental impact statement to determine if and where the South Mountain Loop 202 freeway should be built is about to begin.
"Our biggest challenge, is convincing people that there is no set route already in mind," said John Godec, who has been contracted by the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) to involve the public in the study process.
Currently, the adopted route is along Pecos Road, but the study will start at the beginning and will consider all alternatives, including not building anything, Godec said. Public comments will be a factor in the ultimate decision, which is why Godec's Phoenix-based communication company, Godec, Randall & Associates, was contracted to help involve people in the decision-making process.
"Public involvement will be more than ADOT has ever done before," said Godec, who spoke to the Ahwatukee Foothills Village Planning Committee on Sept. 24.
The first step in the process is to determine if there is even a need for a freeway-to-freeway connection between Interstate 10 in Ahwatukee Foothills and I-10 in the West Valley. If it is determined that there is a need for such a connection, explained Godec, the next step would be to ascertain what kind of a connection would be best.
"We don't know that it will be a freeway," he said, pointing out that the study could recommend improving existing roads or alternatives like mass transit. If it's determined that there is a need, the last step would be to look at possible routes and then selecting one.
Since 1988, the route adopted by the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) has been along Pecos Road, cutting through a corner of South Mountain Park and north along 56th Avenue until it bends and connects with I-10 near 51st Avenue. MAG is responsible for overall coordination of freeway planning in the Valley and is made up of representatives from each of the Valley's cities and tribal governments. The full environmental impact study will cost just under $6 million, according to the study's project manager, Steve Martin of Phoenix-based HDR Engineering.
The study area is bordered by 107th Avenue in the west, McDowell Road to the north, I-10 in the east and Riggs Road and the Gila River in the south. Godec said the first round of public hearings is tentatively set for November, but a specific date and time hadn't been set.
The reporter can be reached at (480) 496-0665 or by e-mail at email@example.com.