ADOT before asking Gilas
The Arizona Republic
Ahwatukee Foothills residents who are opposed to
the South Mountain Freeway being built along Pecos Road frequently suggest
moving it south.
While truckers and holiday travelers enjoyed easier travel on I-10, frontage roads that would have made the freeway useful to the tribe were never built. Forty years later, although ADOT has built many miles of freeway around the state, the agency still has not built those frontage roads.
Nor has it done serious work on the interchanges on tribal land. Only in the past couple of years has a decent interchange been built, at Wild Horse Pass Boulevard close to Phoenix. Other interchanges, those useful primarily to the tribe, remain cloverleaf style, an outdated engineering design found almost nowhere else in the Phoenix area. For a driver to exit I-10 at Casa Blanca road heading toward Sacaton requires major slowing and creates a backup if traffic is heavy. There are no intersections for business development. No easy on-off to beckon travelers for a quick stop.
No matter. ADOT has had other highways to tend. Loops 101 and 202 in the metropolitan Phoenix area have been built, rubberized, improved. Noise abatement walls and beautification projects, landscaping and ceramic pots have been added along those metropolitan loops and parkways.
For 40 years, I-10 has been on ADOT's back burner. But now it's at the forefront because it badly needs widening.
And the state needs the tribe's authority to do so.
Sounds like it's time for some serious discussion.
Last August, the Gila Community Council sent a resolution to ADOT outlining concerns and listing priorities for improvements to I-10. The tribe is asking for full-diamond interchanges at Casa Blanca, Seed Farm and Chandler Heights roads. It is asking for overpasses at other locations so that roads on Gila land do not dead end at the freeway. It's asking for more median crossovers so that public safety vehicles don't have to travel more than two miles before turning to go to an emergency. The tribe is asking for animal crossings, particularly at the Gila River bed.
And the tribe still wants those frontage roads that were never built.
It seems simple enough to realize that unless and until those concerns are addressed, ADOT will not get far with proposing a new freeway be built on Gila River land.
So before Ahwatukee Foothills residents ask, "Why not move the South Mountain Freeway south onto the reservation?" they need to study history. Then they need to ask a different question:
How quickly can ADOT accommodate the tribe's needs so there's room at the table for other negotiations?