many Ahwatukee Foothills residents think of the proposed South Mountain
Freeway the issue that springs to mind is the hotly contested potential
placement of Loop 202 along Pecos Road.
However, mounting pressure to reach a decision on the freeway's western
alignment has lately pushed the Pecos Road debate to the backseat.
At a meeting last week of the South Mountain Citizens Advisory Team, the
Arizona Department of Transportation asked the citizens' group to make its
recommendation on one of three preferred alignments for the western leg by
members said they still lacked information critical to an informed decision
and questioned the accelerated timetable.
"I don't understand why, after three years, all of a sudden in the last
three months everything has to end," said David Lafferty, who represents
Tolleson on the advisory team. "I want to know what's going on.
What's happening, ADOT officials said, is that the long-delayed proposed
freeway has caused a backlog on other transportation and development projects
crucial to state and local governments.
ADOT has proposed connecting Interstate 10 to the southern leg of Loop 202
through 55th Avenue, 71st Avenue or Loop 101.
In the rapidly-expanding West Valley, the future of the South Mountain Freeway
has "absolutely" been the sticking point on a number of development
projects stymied by uncertainty over the freeway's location, ADOT spokesman
Matt Burdick said.
With the one-year anniversary approaching of the passage of Proposition 400,
the half-cent sales tax voters approved last November to fund 20 years' of
transportation projects, local governments are getting eager to see work move
"They want to know where things are going," Burdick said.
ADOT has at least five freeway construction or expansion projects in planning
stages now where progress is in some way contingent upon a decision on the
South Mountain Freeway western alignment, Burdick said.
Though representatives of cities affected by the freeway said they also want
to see the project move forward, many questioned the group's ability to
adequately digest the bulkhead of technical information the committee will
receive in coming months.
Peggy Eastburn, who represents Phoenix's Estrella Village, criticized ADOT
during the meeting for being slow to present information on the number of
homes and businesses impacted by the proposed alignments.
"The questions we need to be asking are how many rooftops are going to be
damaged? How many businesses are going to be displaced?" Eastburn said.
"These questions aren't getting answered because ADOT's holding back
ADOT's technical reports were delayed pending the resolution of several
potential conflicts with properties eligible for historic preservation that
lie in the path of potential alignments, Burdick said.
The group will receive 22 technical reports in the next 2 1/2months with
detailed information on the lands and properties impacted, he said. In order
to reach a decision by late January, the group will continue to meet monthly
through the end of this year and will have several meetings in January.
Though the rushed timetable has frustrated some team members, many said they
were anxious to see progress.
"The sooner we have a plan and put it in place, the better, because of
the explosive growth in the West Valley," said Jim Buster of Avondale.