of buildings in South Mountain Freeway's path
The Arizona Republic
Oct. 21, 2005 12:54 PM
Arizona Department of Transportation has released a preliminary draft of the
proposed South Mountain Freeway's design, showing which homes and businesses
potentially stand in the way of the long-delayed highway's path.
Aerial photographs show hundreds of structures within the freeway's potential
Though ADOT officials said there is still room for modifications to the design,
some representatives of communities impacted by the freeway said they were
disheartened by the look of the freeway as currently proposed.
"A lot of jobs in my village are going to go by the wayside if this
alignment goes through," said Peggy Eastburn, a member of the Estrella
Village Planning Committee.
ADOT distributed the report Thursday night to the South Mountain Citizens
Advisory Team, a volunteer citizens' group that has been working with ADOT for
more than three years on the freeway project.
The draft design includes a series of aerial photographs taken in early 2005
outlining the land that could need to be acquired if the freeway is built. It is
detailed enough to show individual houses and businesses that stand in the way
of the freeway's proposed alignment.
Officials from ADOT and the Federal Highway Administration cautioned the group
that the design is a very early version of the freeway's layout that could be
changed after input from cities and residents. There is also the possibility
that the freeway could not be built at all. However, designers indicated that
the outline is not radically different from the $1.1 billion freeway ADOT would
like to build.
"Assuming something is built, this [design] is probably pretty
similar" to the freeway's final footprint, said Christopher Clary-Lemon, a
transportation engineer working with ADOT on the project.
The proposed Loop 202 freeway would link Interstate 10 in the West Valley to the
interstate's southern portion near Ahwatukee Foothills. The original alignment
approved by the Maricopa Association of Governments in 1988 connects I-10 at
55th Avenue in the west and Pecos Road in the south, clipping the western
portion of South Mountain Park.
In addition to the original 55th Avenue alignment, ADOT is also considering
connecting the western leg of the freeway through 71st Avenue or Loop 101. The
department has also been in negotiations with the Gila River Indian Community
about possibly shifting the southern portion of the freeway onto their land.
ADOT has no specific figures yet on the number of homes and businesses that
would need to be acquired if the freeway is built. "There's going to be
homes that we have to acquire if it's built," ADOT spokesman Matt Burdick
said. The public is "going to look at this information and have a very
ADOT is holding three information sessions next month in communities potentially
impacted by the freeway to show the public the maps and answer questions. (See
The report also details which interchanges on the freeway would be elevated and
which would be built below ground level. Representatives of several Valley
communities expressed frustration with the number of elevated interchanges
proposed along the freeway.
"When the people of Laveen see that drawing . . . they will be very
disappointed," said Laurie Prendergast, a member of the citizens' advisory
team and president of the resident coalition Laveen Citizens for Responsible
Development. Many residents had hoped for a below-grade freeway through their
community; as currently designed, the freeway would be elevated over most of the
"I've heard citizens say that if a depressed freeway is good enough for
Scottsdale . . . it's good enough for the people of Laveen," Prendergast