Freeway opponents start petition
Ahwatukee Foothills News
"[I'm] just a mom. I work a 60-hour week like
But that didn't stop her from leading the charge with a
petition drive to stop the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway from being built on
She opposes just about everything connected with the
freeway from the proposed route along Pecos Road, to the 10 lanes of freeway
that will cut through South Mountain Park, to the displacement of families, and
most of all, she is opposed to the pollution a freeway would bring forcing
families to play roulette with children's health.
"I think we have a right to protect our
children," said Pai, who pointed out that about 7,000 students will be
attending school within a block or two of the freeway.
"So I thought a petition would be
appropriate," she said.
At the first meeting of PARC, Protecting Arizona's
Resources and Children, on Dec. 4, she had about 35 volunteers eager and ready
to circulate petitions.
She expects many more at the next meeting: 3 p.m. Dec.
18 at Pecos Park.
"She is very articulate," said Jim Jochim,
who attended the first meeting and is gathering signatures.
What mobilized Pai was her inability to find anyone
accountable for the proposed Pecos Road alignment.
The Arizona Department of Transportation will recommend
a final route for the entire Loop 202 in 2007, but based upon a recommendation
by the South Mountain Citizens Advisory Team and only after input from the
cities of Phoenix, Laveen and Tolleson. That route then will go to the Federal
Highway Administration for final approval.
"It is a convoluted process that is designed to
obscure what is poor planning," Pai said.
So she decided that a petition sent to Phoenix Mayor
Phil Gordon and Gov. Janet Napolitano would get the message across.
The petition doesn't have any legal authority, but will
be considered by ADOT when it comes down the final decision.
"We'll take input such as that, and any other
input," said Matt Burdick, a spokesman for ADOT.
The petition also draws attention to the freeway's
opponents, an important factor in next year's election for legislators and
"What I'm looking for is to hold these politicians
accountable for whatever decision they make," Pai said.
"The other thing, we want them to know is if they
don't consider the needs of children, the needs of the community, there will be
political and legal repercussions."
The Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway has been on the
books since 1988, running east to west along Pecos Road from Interstate 10 by
Ahwatukee Foothills, through a corner of South Mountain Park and reconnecting
with I-10 in the West Valley somewhere between 51st Avenue and the Loop 101/I-10
In Ahwatukee Foothills, a preliminary estimate shows
255 homes would have to be demolished to make way for the freeway if it were
built above ground. If the freeway were built below ground level to reduce
noise, roughly 695 homes would have to be demolished.
Some of the 255 homes were built in the freeway right
of way when the state didn't have the money to buy the land in the mid-1980s.
Depending on which route is approved in the West
Valley, anywhere from 120 to 780 homes could be demolished, including mostly new
homes built in the last few years.
The current timeline calls for the citizens advisory
team to recommend a final route in the West Valley early next year and the final
route in the East Valley by the end of 2006 or early in 2007, with the final
design completed in 2008 and construction to run from 2009-2015.
For information on the freeway, visit
Pai said that PARC is still working on a Web page.
The reporter can be reached at (480) 898-7914 or by
e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.