Pecos Road opponents need broader
Ahwatukee Foothills News
But while their voices might be large in number, their
message needs to broaden if they hope to conquer the formidable opponent that
insists on completing Loop 202, whether it be along Pecos Road or a yet
unaccepted alternative route.
Who is this foe? It's population growth.
More people mean more cars on existing highways in the
Valley, resulting in longer traffic jams and more pressure for additional
freeway miles. Without more freeways, the growth needs of companies and
businesses and the travel needs of residents will go unmet resulting in more
drive time due to congestion, bringing a diminished quality of life and a
disincentive to companies considering expansion or relocation.
How serious is this foe?
At last month's East Valley Economic Forum, Lee
McPheters, director of the Bank One Economic Outlook Center, identified four
unstoppable trends that businesses and government have to reckon with.
Population growth made the list.
For the 11th straight year, Arizona has ranked as the
second fastest growing state in the nation. Currently about 3.6 million people
live in the Greater Phoenix area, and by 2020 that number is expected to reach
at least 5.2 million while the statewide population will grow to 8.3 million
from about 5.7 million.
Not building the South Mountain Freeway isn't an
option, at least not for Ahwatukee Foothills, which can expect to see its
current population of about 78,000 residents increase to nearly 120,000 in 2020.
A 2000 study funded by the city of Phoenix predicts an
overall 35 percent increase in traffic volume from cars approaching Interstate
10 from the west off of Elliot, Warner and Ray roads as well as Chandler
I-10 is just as bad. At Elliot Road alone, the traffic
volume is expected to rise to 187,000 vehicles per day in 2020 compared with
133,000 vehicles in 1999. Without another freeway route, residents here can
expect to spend more time in their cars waiting to get onto I-10, and raising
The study shows that a South Mountain Freeway won't
completely alleviate traffic jams in Ahwatukee Foothills, but it will lighten
the congestion in the village and the Valley. For additional help, the Arizona
Department of Transportation is already looking at adding more lanes to I-10, to
accommodate increasing demands on freeway infrastructure.
Opponents are raising a much-needed voice in this
debate to prevent Pecos Road from becoming the freeway's route, and they deserve
to be applauded. But fighting against Pecos Road alone addresses only a portion
of the problem. If Pecos Road opponents hope to win the fight and help preserve
the overall quality of life and economic vitality of the Valley and Ahwatukee
Foothills, they need to broaden their message to address the realistic demands
from population growth, and work with their elected leaders to assemble a plan
for a completed Loop 202 that is acceptable to all.
John Conway can be reached at (480) 898-7910.