Recessed freeway plan would destroy
Ahwatukee Foothills News
The old saw reminds dreamers to be careful of what they
wish for because it could come true.
Such is the case for those many Ahwatukee Foothills
residents who have expressed a preference to see the proposed South Mountain
Freeway built below ground level so sound walls won't mar their view.
However, a recessed freeway would necessitate
destroying another 440 homes along Pecos Road to manage water flow.
"When you do that, you potentially take up more
space and homes for retention basins," said Amy Edwards, whose firm was
hired by the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) to assist in highway
The 20-foot-deep retention basins would hold runoff
water from South Mountain and Ahwatukee Foothills neighborhoods, according to
Edwards, a project engineer with HDR Engineering, a consulting business with
offices in Phoenix. Also, pumps would have to be installed to move water from
the freeway's north side to the south.
The matter was discussed at the South Mountain Citizens
Advisory Team meeting on Dec. 1. The panel is a volunteer committee to ADOT.
Edwards said "no decision has been made yet"
on building the freeway below ground level.
At this point in the rough design process, ADOT has
estimated that an above ground freeway on Pecos Road would require the
destruction of about 255 homes. It would also result in walls 10- to 20-feet tall to muffle traffic noise.
Other issues attached to building a freeway below
ground level include how to allow for animal migration to and from South
Mountain, pump stations to move the standing water from the north side of the
freeway to the south side, and the cost of relocating underground utilities,
including a major 48-inch water supply line under Pecos Road.
South Mountain Freeway is proposed to open with three
lanes east and three lanes west, expanding to five lanes in both directions in
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