Large turnout expected at Loop 202
As many as 1,000 people are expected to study detailed
plans for a proposed freeway along Pecos Road next week during an open house
meeting at the Grace Inn at Ahwatukee.
It is the first opportunity for residents here to see
the latest and most-detailed route for the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway.
Arizona Department of Transportation spokesman Matt
Burdick said people are invited to attend, ask questions and provide comment on
the freeway's impact.
"We want to give people plenty of opportunity to
view the aerial photographs and see how close it is to their house,"
As the tentative design stands now, with the freeway
built at ground level, an estimated to 200-300 Ahwatukee Foothills homes or lots
make way for the proposed six-lane freeway, Burdick said.
If the freeway is constructed below ground level, even
more homes would have to be demolished because extra land would be needed for
water retention and runoff needs, Burdick said.
ADOT is particularly interested in public comment on
whether an interchange should be included at 32nd Street. In the 1988 plan there
was no interchange proposed at that street. ADOT will have aerial photographs
with and without the interchange so homeowners who live nearby can see how many
houses would have to be removed to make way for the freeway ramps.
The Loop 202 is designed to connect Interstate 10 at
Pecos Road, extend west around South Mountain Park and reconnect with I-10 in
the West Valley between 51st Avenue and the Loop 101/I-10 interchange.
Many Ahwatukee Foothills residents support a freeway
provided it is built south of Pecos Road on the Gila River Indian Community.
But the Indians have so far opposed a freeway on
"In four years we have not been given permission
to even study alignments on their land," Burdick said.
And time is running out as the planning process moves
"We still have time now, but a year from now
might be too late," Burdick said.
Even with the election of a new governor for the Gila
River Indian Reservation on Tuesday, it remains unclear how the change will
affect the freeway's future.
Thursday afternoon, tribal spokesman Gary Bohnee said
Chief Judge William Roy Rhodes defeated Lt. Gov. Mary Thomas by a count of 825
to 626 votes. The count includes 400 write-in ballots that will be verified. The
tribal council will certify all results in December.
"I don't expect the election results to change,
just the margins," Bohnee said.
Nathaniel Percharo, a tribal member on the South
Mountain Citizens Advisory Team that is helping ADOT find a route, said he
understands Rhodes is a strong supporter of economic development but he hasn't
taken a stand on the freeway.
Burdick stressed that no final decisions have been
made on the freeway design or its location.
"We have a lot of flexibility at this point to
look at options," Burdick said, including building the freeway below ground
to reduce noise or building on the Gila River Indian Community if the tribal
Another question facing the Indian community is the
freeway's proposed path and its conflict with sacred land. The freeway's Pecos
Road route cuts through several ridges in South Mountain that carry religious
importance to the Indian community.
"From a cultural standpoint there is a lot of
significance there," he said.
A decision on where the freeway would go on the west
side of the project is expected by early next year.
A draft plan for the freeway's route in the east, in
Ahwatukee Foothills, isn't expected until fall 2006.
The final public meetings and approval is expected by
summer 2007 with construction to run from 2009-2015, according to ADOT.
Next week's open house will be conducted from noon to
8 p.m., Nov. 17, at the Grace Inn at Ahwatukee, 10831 S. 51st St.
The reporter can be reached at (480)
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