Individual voices support freeway on
Ahwatukee Foothills News
Opposition to building the Loop 202 along Pecos Road
through South Mountain Park came from unexpected sources last week two Gila
Nathaniel Percharo and Anthony Villareal, both members
of an advisory committee to the Arizona Department of Transportation, expressed
support for an alternative route for the controversial South Mountain Freeway
during a panel meeting on Dec. 1.
At the South Mountain Citizens Advisory Committee
meeting, Percharo explained that he and his fellow landowners have never been
asked if they are willing to have the freeway built south of Pecos Road.
"We've never been approached. It's always been the
tribe," Percharo said.
The Gila River Indian Community's Tribal Council has
opposed studying a freeway on tribal land for the last five years, but Percharo
said the 5,000 tribal members who control thousands of acres south of Pecos Road
support the freeway on Indian land.
Calling the project a "golden opportunity,"
Percharo suggested building the Loop 202 south of Pecos Road on undeveloped
"Why not drop it down so there's economic
development," he said.
"No one in Ahwatukee would lose their homes, and
we don't have any homes to lose."
Percharo represents the I-10 Pecos Landowners
Association, which is comprised of families that control land south of Pecos
Road roughly between 40th Street and 51st Avenue.
Opposition to the proposed Pecos Road route also came
from a traditional counselor of the Gila River people, because the pathway
requires deep cuts through South Mountain.
The mountain is considered important to the tribe and cutting into the ridges would be similar to cutting a church in two, said Villareal, a traditional counselor for the tribe.
"It's sacred from one end to another. It has
significance to the people since the beginning," he explained.
Speaking for himself, Villareal said, cutting into the
mountain would be disturbing.
"It would bother me deeply," he said.
The citizens advisory committee is scheduled to
recommend a West Valley route for the western leg of the freeway next month.
The committee will recommend a route for the freeway's
eastern leg late next year. So far the only route is along Pecos Road.
The South Mountain Freeway is planned to open with
three lanes in both directions, and grow to five lanes in both directions.
The reporter can be reached at (480) 898-7914 or by
e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.