Don't build South Mountain Freeway
Ahwatukee Foothills News
My wife and I first moved to the Valley of the Sun in
1965 after I graduated from the University of Nebraska, and I accepted
employment with Mountain States Telephone and Telegraphy Co.
In the course of my 32-year career with Bell
System/AT&T, we relocated six times. However, we always wanted to return to
Arizona which we did in 1995, and we chose to live in The Foothills due to
the quality of life, the tranquility of the environment and being in the back
yard of the South Mountain.
Here are my thoughts on the proposed Loop 202 South
A. I support a No Build of the South Mountain Freeway.
The majority of the homeowners do not want it and that was demonstrated by the
substantial turnout at the Grace Inn on Nov. 17. And just as important the Gila
River Indian Community (GRIC) also does not want it on their property.
B. A number of elected officials have voiced a
"no" on the proposed Loop 202 including U.S. Representative J.D.
Hayworth and Phoenix Councilman Greg Stanton. I wonder: What about the other
elected officials who represent this area? What is their position? Also what
about the various HOAs, the Chamber of Commerce? Can we get an "up or
down" vote from them?
C. Your newspaper asked this question: What is the best
alternative to the freeway? I can say this with a factual/pragmatic background
as I worked in the New York City area for 10 years and the answer is "mass
transit" a.k.a. trains, subways and buses. Let's spend the $1 billion where
it will do the greatest good for everyone for the longest time frame.
D. I have a deep respect for all of the Indian tribes
in the United States. In my home I have a modest collection of Southwest Indian
baskets, pottery, rugs, sand paintings and Kachina dolls. I love hiking in the
South Mountain and in the Grand Canyon especially to the home of the
Havasupai Indians. One recent weekend, I was at the Indian Craft Show at the
Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort and I asked several GRIC members what they
wanted and they said: "We don't want the freeway either, but we would love
to have our mountain back."
E. It is my opinion that once the GRIC sees firsthand
the damage that will be done to their sacred mountain by the blasting and
digging for the South Mountain Freeway they will join hands with the residents
of the Foothills village and say with a single unified voice "No
F. I also have some questions about the objectivity of
Matt Burdick -- this has been documented several times by his comments in the
newspapers. For example, to say that the "No Build" is a "long
shot" or on the letter from J.D. Hayworth, "We'll take public comment,
including the congressman's letter into consideration." I sense from his
"attitude" he feels this is already a done deal and he just wants to
say to the earthmovers "Start your engines" and let the razing of
people's homes and permanent scarring of the sacred South Mountain commence.
G. Someone at the Ahwatukee Foothills News needs to
look closely at the statements that are made on page 2 of the Fall/Winter South
Mountain Transportation Corridor Study regarding the percentage of traffic on
the three different connections to I-10 on the west side. I find it hard to
believe that very many Foothills property owners east of Central would take the
route to 55th Avenue (best case) just to head east on Interstate 10 to go back
to downtown Phoenix. And I find it nearly impossible that anyone heading to
downtown Phoenix from the Foothills would drive out to the Loop 101 connection
just to head back to downtown Phoenix.
H. Based on your examination of the above statements, I
think you will support the position that this route is really a Phoenix bypass
for the truckers on I-10 heading west.
I. How was the Arizona Department of Transportation and
the Federal Highway Administration able to secure access through the Salt River
Pima-Maricopa Indian Community for the construction of the 101 several years
J. Several weeks ago ADOT announced the "Exit Ramp
Locations" off of the 202 on the South Mountain portion of the freeway --
one of them being 32nd Street. Yet in a few weeks they retracted that location.
Why? I was unaware of any public meetings on the exit ramps yet it appears
someone at ADOT responded to opposition by the city of Phoenix and homeowners.
Let's get the facts on the table with this "behind the closed doors"
decision-making process. Who called who and then who "pulled the
lever" to cause 32nd Street to be removed as an exit ramp? Are we working
with full disclosure?
K. Finally, what really is the decision-making process
at ADOT/FHWA and how does it work? Who really is on the decision-making unit
by name and title? Are all votes equal? How much weight does the public input
If you need additional information on any of the above
statements, please call me at (480) 460-2535. Thank you for your interest in
this important issue -- it is truly appreciated.
Jim Jochim, who holds an MBA from Arizona State
University, has been a resident of Ahwatukee Foothills for 10 years.