sound off on freeway
By Doug Murphy
What was billed as a town hall meeting to discuss the
upcoming legislative session quickly turned into a rally to stop Pecos Road from
becoming Loop 202.
Even before the gathering began on Monday state Reps.
Bob Robson and John McComish were approached outside the Ironwood Branch Library
by Melanie Pai, who is leading a petition drive to defeat the proposed freeway
Within minutes the two lawmakers had signed the
petition opposing the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway on Pecos Road and voiced
support for Pai and her organization. Pai founded PARC, Protecting Arizona's
Resources and Children, a grass-roots organization devoted to keeping Pecos Road
from becoming a freeway.
Inside the library's meeting room, vocal opposition to
the proposed freeway route continued.
"They ought to call it the I-10 truck
bypass," Bob Mullin said.
"What do you see your role being towards
destruction of South Mountain Park?" Pai asked.
Both lawmakers, who represent Ahwatukee Foothills and
legislative District 20, said they supported the efforts of freeway opponents.
"You have gotten their attention, believe
me," Robson said referring to the Arizona Department of Transportation.
"I don't think the freeway will be built as it was proposed."
McComish, who in his earlier role as chairman of the
Ahwatukee Foothills Village Planning Committee, had opposed the freeway along
Pecos Road for half a decade, suggested that opposition to the freeway through
South Mountain Park might prompt the Gila River Indian Community to consider an
alternative route on its land.
"No one wants to go through South Mountain. Maybe
that will help jump-start a solution."
But both McComish and Robson resisted requests to get
actively involved in the study process, saying that now wasn't the time to get
politicians involved in the battle.
"Once we know something is going to happen, then
we can act," Robson said.
Currently, ADOT is still in the study phase of
determining a route for the freeway.
Mullin understood that the time is right for a
petition drive and that it might be better to wait and call in elected officials
after a final decision on a route has been made, but he still had one question.
"I'd like to know how the governor feels,"
The Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway has been on the
maps 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
Depending on which West Valley route is approved early
next year, anywhere from 120 to 780 homes could be demolished, including mostly
new homes built in the last few years.
In Ahwatukee Foothills, a preliminary estimate shows
that between 255 and 695 homes would have to be demolished to make way for the
freeway depending on whether the freeway is built above or below ground.
That decision won't happen until late next year or
The current timeline calls for approval of the overall
route in 2007 with design completed in 2008 and construction work to proceed
Pai and PARC oppose the freeway on Pecos Road because
of health concerns for more than 6,000 students in six schools that will be
within a few blocks of the freeway, because the freeway will cut through a
corner of South Mountain Park that is sacred to the Gila River Indian Community
and because it will destroy homes and diminish the quality of life in Ahwatukee
The reporter can be reached at (480)
898-7914 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.