opposed to freeway along 97th Ave.
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 21, 2006 11:25 AM
Avondale City Council does not want a freeway to interfere with one of the
city's retail and employment powerhouses.
The City Council passed a resolution earlier this week asserting opposition to
building the South Mountain Freeway along 97th Avenue in Avondale.
Instead, the city has thrown support to constructing the freeway along 55th
Avenue in Phoenix.
"We have to take a stand," Councilwoman
Betty Lynch said.
The resolution passed 6 to 1, with Councilman Jim Buster as the dissenting vote.
For the past 20 years, the state has been planning to build the South Mountain
Freeway, also known as Loop 202, to connect the Southwest Valley with the
Southeast Valley. The Arizona Department of Transportation is currently studying
three areas where the freeway could go: 55th Avenue, 71st Avenue or 97th Avenue.
Avondale's three biggest tax generators are just west of the 97th Avenue option.
If the South Mountain Freeway is built there, the state could wipe out freeway
access to and from McDowell Road, something many businesses at Loop 101 and 99th
Avenue rely on.
City leaders fear the Avondale Auto Mall, Gateway Pavilions, and the
under-construction Gateway Crossing could take a beating if customers don't have
easy access to spending in those three places.
Buster, also a member of the South Mountain Citizens Advisory Team, said the
55th Avenue plan is outdated since it was approved in 1985. Because of the
unexpected West Valley population boom since then, "I don't know how
practical it is in the long term," Buster said.
Buster said he prefers an alignment farther west of 55th Avenue to follow the
growing population in the West Valley.
The Citizens Advisory Team is expected to vote on preferred placement of the
freeway at the end of April. As an Avondale councilman, Buster said he would
"faithfully" represent the wishes of his colleagues when the advisory
team meets in April.
Reach the reporter at (602) 444-4135.