The Arizona Republic
decades in the planning. Seventeen years on the map. Three years of intensive
study and public meetings. Lots of news coverage.
Yet the reality of the planned South Mountain Freeway seemed to come out of
nowhere recently, its footprint hovering over homes, schools, churches and a
The proposed 22- to 26-mile freeway is causing unease among Ahwatukee Foothills
residents along Pecos Road while stirring up a ruckus in the areas of Laveen,
Avondale and Tolleson.
If you haven't been involved in any of the planning, it's time to pay attention.
The Arizona Department of Transportation is holding three open houses this week
in the affected areas: Estrella, Laveen and Ahwatukee.
The Ahwatukee area is a geographical squeeze play: Either the freeway runs along
Pecos, destroying some houses so new they barely have landscaping established,
or it runs on the Gila River Reservation. Unfortunately for Ahwatukee residents,
the Gila River Indian Community does not want a freeway through its turf.
On the west side, the freeway has three possible routes and raises various
concerns. Laveen wants the freeway, Tolleson doesn't. Avondale seems to be of
two minds, depending on who is talking.
It's a similar story that has played around the Valley, as the Piestewa
(formerly Squaw Peak) Freeway, Loop 101 and other legs of Loop 202 were designed
and built. No one wants a freeway in the backyard. Yet we all want to travel
throughout the Valley with minimum wait time.
So the impact of a potential South Mountain Freeway affects people in a much
broader area than the communities where it will lay. ADOT is planning at least
five freeway construction or expansion projects the progress of which depends on
The last leg of Loop 202 is part of a regional transportation plan, the key word
being "regional." Last November, Maricopa County voters approved a
half-cent sales tax that will fund freeways, including this $1 billion stretch.
ADOT is cranking up the heat on getting things decided.
The time has come for residents to get involved. Speak up now, or forfeit your
right to complain.