from Tolleson to Ahwatukee Foothills are rallying in anticipation of a series
of public meetings this week that will unveil plans for the proposed South
Thousands are expected at three meetings in the Phoenix communities likely to
be most affected by the long-planned and much-debated freeway.
Officials are anticipating emotional reactions from residents whose
communities could be radically altered.
"We don't want no
freeway," said Mercy Rocha, 69, of Tolleson. "Our town is small, and
if we have a freeway it's going to cut it in half and we'll be smaller."
The Arizona Department of Transportation is hosting open houses in Estrella,
Laveen and Ahwatukee on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
The main attraction will be enlarged aerial photographs showing the routes of
the proposed 22- to 26-mile freeway. Residents will be able to see which homes
and buildings would be in the boundary of properties that ADOT thinks it will
need to acquire if the $1.1 billion freeway is built.
Depending on the route, the freeway could claim 1,000 homes and 70 businesses.
The South Mountain Freeway is intended to complete Loop 202 and relieve
traffic from Interstate 10. ADOT has proposed connecting the western leg of
the freeway to I-10 at either Loop 101, 71st Avenue or 55th Avenue.
Officials from the Maricopa Association of Governments and some West Valley
mayors have touted the Loop 101 link-up as best. Meanwhile, Tolleson has
adamantly opposed that route, as it would plow directly through the town.
Phoenix Councilman Doug Lingner and a coalition of residents and landowners
have rallied around the 55th Avenue alignment, arguing that the initial design
approved in 1988 is the most beneficial to development in the West Valley.
Estrella Village Planning Committee Chair Peggy Eastburn said she is worried
that the same alignment could cost local jobs. The alignment would disrupt an
industrial park just south of I-10.
"I'm really worried about the amount of jobs lost in my village,"
In Ahwatukee, residents have only two scenarios to consider: building the
freeway along what is now Pecos Road, or not building it at all.
Despite protests from Ahwatukee residents and officials urging ADOT to move
the freeway south onto land owned by the Gila River Indian Community, tribal
officials have not consented to any study of a freeway alignment there.
It's an issue in Ahwatukee, where the freeway plans are older than most of the
Mountain Park Community Church, which sits in one of the potential routes, is
printing a note in its bulletin today encouraging worshipers to attend
"I love where I live," said Paula Brown, whose home sits near Pecos
Road. "They can't buy my house for enough to make me move
Reporter Pat Flannery contributed to this
article. Reach the reporter at email@example.com
or (602) 444-7801.