River eyes extending 40th St.
Planning director discusses transportation issues
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 1, 2005 12:00 AM
The Gila River Indian Community is going to study extending 40th Street south
of Ahwatukee Foothills onto the reservation to provide a direct route to its
resort, golf courses and the future Rawhide Western Town & Steakhouse.
Gary Bohnee, community spokesman, said Wednesday the community has set aside
money to begin studying possible street routes to connect 40th Street and
Pecos Road in Ahwatukee Foothills with 48th Street and Wild Horse Pass
Boulevard on the reservation, a distance of about a mile and a half.
A connecting street not only would give Ahwatukee Foothills residents a
quicker way to get to Rawhide and the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort and Spa
but give Gila River residents a way to drive up to a proposed power center
that developers want to build just south of Pecos Road at 40th Street.
Bohnee did not know
when the study would begin or how long it would take.
But Larry Stephenson the Gila River's acting planning director, told the
Chandler Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday that before the center and another one
being considered near Maricopa are developed, the community needs to figure out
how to extend its utilities to them.
"We have to figure out how to get water, sewer and
telecommunications," he said.
He said the proposed power center, which could include a big box store like a
SuperTarget or Wal-Mart Supercenter, would provide badly needed sales tax
revenues to the community.
Stephenson said transportation is a major concern for the Gila River community,
especially because of all the truck traffic along the Beltline Road, which runs
through the reservation, connecting Riggs Road in the southeast Valley to 51st
Avenue in west Phoenix. It is a street with three names.
"It functions as a de facto thoroughfare," he said. "We are
concerned about that and have not figured out the ideal solution."
But that doesn't mean the residents want the proposed South Mountain Freeway as
an alternate, he said. He also said that many Ahwatukee Foothills residents
probably just see "vacant barren land" when they look to the south and
wonder why the proposed South Mountain Freeway can't be built there.
The Gila River residents don't want the noise and dust any more than Ahwatukee
Foothills residents, Stephenson said.
"I remind people that the adopted alignment (for the South Mountain) still
is Pecos Road," he said.
Stephenson has worked for the community since 1992, helping guide its economic
plans before and after the community opened three successful casinos. The money
from the casinos has mainly been used to catch up, for things like improved
electric service, telecommunications and sewage systems.