Freeway alternatives deserve more
Ahwatukee Foothills News
If the Arizona Department of Transportation fails to
come up with an imaginative solution to the choking traffic along Interstate 10,
it won't be the fault of its constituents.
And no, I'm not talking about Santa's Slowdown, the
Christmas carnival that has turned December freeway travel into one big gaper's
block just south of Ahwatukee Foothills; the calendar will eventually solve that
This is about the real problem, the 20-year-old puzzle
of how to get all those trucks out of our way so we can reach downtown Phoenix
in something remotely like a short time. ADOT held citizen comment sessions a
few weeks ago to discuss some way to skirt South Mountain, and emerged with a
sort of a consensus:
Build it someplace, and preferably someplace else.
But, perhaps spurred by comments in this space in the
last few weeks, some people have given more serious thought to the problem. Here
are a couple of the ideas e-mailed to In This Corner:
Light rail. A gentleman named Joe Debbins writes that the proposed South
Mountain Freeway is the wrong way to go, since it "will not reduce traffic
on I-10. The problem is with morning and evening commuter traffic. Consider a
branch of rapid commuter trains from Maricopa to downtown, with appropriate
stops in Ahwatukee, Chandler, Tempe, connecting with Valley Metro light
Or how about:
Alternate route. Reader Ken
Burns has a different plan. "In order to provide relief to the heavy
traffic on I-10, provide an alternative route for east-west through traffic.
Build an I-10 bypass along Highway 85 running from Buckeye to the I-8
at Gila Bend. This traffic would avoid the majority of the highly populated
areas of the Valley and provide economic development opportunities for both
Buckeye and Gila Bend."
As for me, I'm still intrigued by the phantom route
followed by those power lines marking the boundary between Ahwatukee Foothills
and the Gila River Indian Community. As the reservation has seen its coffers
swell over the years, courtesy of those of us dropping dollars down the casino
slots, the Indian community has shown less and less interest in cooperating with
ADOT in working out a way to help both our community and theirs out of this
traffic jam by routing traffic to a bypass at the north edge of the reservation.
But quite recently, the folks at Gila River have begun
talking to the state about some road improvements they
want to meet the demands of their increased development widening
I-10 to three regular lanes and one high-occupancy lane in each direction
through the 32 miles between the Santan Freeway and I-8, for instance.
That solution would be neither cheap nor quick.
Estimates run to some $500 million, and a feasibility study won't be completed
But that surely seems to be the basis for some
meaningful negotiations, with potential gains for both the state of Arizona and
the Gila River Community. And, perhaps, a nudge for the Indian reservation to be
more flexible about the South Mountain Bypass plan.
Terry Bledsoe, a former columnist
for the Milwaukee Journal,
is now a freelance writer whose column appears twice a month. He can be reached