The Arizona Republic
A comment from Lt. Gov. Mary Thomas last week has village residents hoping the tribe will decide a freeway is a good proposition, alleviating the need to run it along Pecos Road, where 20-year-old planning maps show the alignment.
Thomas' remark, made during the monthly meeting of the South Mountain Citizen Advisory Team, only establishes that the tribe is considering the freeway, which we already had been led to believe.
The tribe is not known to rush into
things, instead using caution and deliberation in its
Any vote would most likely be held in November, when the community's next general election is scheduled, according to spokesman Gary Bohnee.
More questions remain than are answered. Such as:
• Will the tribe vote on allowing a freeway, or just on allowing the Arizona Department of Transportation to study the environmental impact along a possible route?
• Will a popular vote overrule the wishes of the District 6 Council, which has not wanted a freeway on its land?
• Will the I-10 Pecos Landowners Association be able to persuade the District 6 Council to vote to allow a freeway across open desert?
Residents who have lived in Ahwatukee Foothills for some time know that planning stalled nearly a decade ago for a six-lane, 22-mile freeway linking Interstate 10 at Pecos Road to I-10 in the west Valley. Since then, both Ahwatukee and the West Valley have grown, making any alignment more costly and disruptive than it would have been 10 years ago.
ADOT is feeling the pressure to do something, anything, after 20 years of toying with the idea of a southern route around the Valley. Twenty years from now, 150,000 to 170,000 cars a day are expected to use the South Mountain Freeway, according to ADOT spokesman Matt Burdick.
It has to go somewhere.
Last November's voter approval of Proposition 400 provided a funding mechanism for $1 billion in land acquisition and construction costs for the freeway. Federal money also will be used.
All we need now is the route, which has a fallback position of running along Pecos Road past Ahwatukee Foothills, then curving northwest at the edge of South Mountain Park. ADOT is well along on an environmental impact study for that route and owns large sections of right-of-way along Pecos. There is even a sign at 24th Street and Pecos Road that lists the intersection as a future interchange.
An answer from the tribe could have the opposite effect that Ahwatukee residents are hoping for. A firm "no" would give ADOT no reason for further lagging on the project.
Thomas in essence gave people fair warning by saying, "Whatever the decision is, everybody will need to accept it."