issues forcing ADOT to communicate
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 23, 2006 12:00 AM
The Arizona Department of Transportation is
working at the art of communication.
Good thing, because lots of people have things to say about freeways going
through their community.
ADOT Director Victor Mendez told The Republic's
editorial board last week that the state agency has spent the past 18
months beefing up its public outreach by hiring six consulting specialists
statewide. This week, community meetings are scheduled to discuss freeway issues
in the West Valley. There will of course be more meetings in the Southeast
Valley on such hot topics as the South Mountain Freeway, the widening of
Interstate 10 and Pinal County transportation plans.
Unfortunately, even improved communication cannot change burgeoning
growth and a paltry public-transit system in the Valley that have pushed demand
for freeways beyond ADOT's ability to keep up.
"Demand has outstripped our resources now and into the future," Mendez
told the editorial board.
No surprise there.
The good news emerging from the public relations nightmare of the South Mountain
Freeway planning is that our governor has requested that ADOT better coordinate
with other agencies about land use. That means don't let people build
high-dollar homes in a freeway's path. In looking toward the West Valley, ADOT
is trying to buy land in proposed paths early enough to waylay development. Good
plan. Wish it would've worked out that way in Ahwatukee.
In other transportation issues that affect the Southeast Valley, ADOT is putting
a priority on widening I-10 between Ahwatukee and Tucson. Mendez wrote to Gila
River Indian Community Gov. William Rhodes recently requesting a meeting to
discuss I-10, which travels a good many miles through the reservation. But 40
years of history between the Gila River Community and ADOT has created some
issues that must be addressed before that widening has a prayer.
Last August, the Gila Council sent ADOT a list of concerns along I-10, including
frontage roads and improved exit ramps. The tribe's stance is based on the
original agreement when the freeway was built in the 1960s.
"We're trying to interpret it 40 years later," Mendez said of that
agreement. "The approach we're taking is to sit down today and try to move
Moving forward is good. Arriving on time, without displacing hundreds of
residents, would be better.