underscore need for connector freeway
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 31, 2006 04:15 PM
The numbers all add up
to justify a freeway connecting the booming Southwest Valley with the burgeoning
Southeast Valley, a South Mountain advisory board was told by engineers this
Between now and 2030, the Southwest Valley is expected to gain 674,000 residents
- more than any other area of the Phoenix metro region - and 288,000 jobs, said
Bob Hazlett, senior engineer at the Maricopa Association of Governments.
That area's population will reach 1.5 million.
Southeast Valley, including Pinal County, will gain 389,000 residents and
287,000 jobs over the next 25 years. Based on current estimates, the population
will reach 1.8 million.
Those projections underscore the need for a connector freeway, Hazlett told the
South Mountain Citizens Advisory Team on Thursday night.
"It has a regional purpose. It is very important to this region that it
works," he said.
John Rodriguez, a resident of the Lakewood development in Ahwatukee Foothills
that would be most affected by the freeway, disagreed about the need.
He predicted growth in the Southwest to go west and growth in the Southeast to
go east. Such growth, he said, can be handled by expanding freeways in those
"What they want to do is destroy this small town," he said, referring
to Ahwatukee Foothills, which technically is a section of Phoenix. "They
want to affect the smallest city on the map."
But Laurie Prendergast, a member of the team from Laveen, said west-siders
already are eyeing jobs in the Southeast Valley, especially Chandler with its
Intel and other high-tech companies.
"People in the West Valley can't wait for this freeway to get to all the
jobs in Chandler, instead of going through the I-10 tunnel and Broadway
Curve," she said.
Hazlett said that while Phoenix is now the major job center, job centers will
spread out along the freeways by 2050, especially along Interstate 10 in the
Southwest Valley and Southeast Valley down to Casa Grande, as well as the
Williams Gateway Airport area in southeast Mesa.
Ahwatukee Foothills is already being affected by Pinal County residents, Hazlett
said. A recent survey of license plates in Ahwatukee Foothills Park and Ride
lots showed that 60 percent of the vehicles were from Pinal County.
Ahwatukee Foothills residents have long been concerned about the South Mountain
Freeway bringing truck traffic along their southern border.
But Hazlett said most truck traffic travels on Interstate 10, to and from Los
Angeles and the ports in Long Beach. Because truckers are paid by the mile, they
won't necessarily take the South Mountain Freeway to get from I-10 in west
Phoenix to I-10 south of Ahwatukee Foothills.
"It's a wash, the Loop 202 (South Mountain Freeway) versus downtown.
Downtown is probably a little shorter," he said.
In addition to demographic information, the team was again given traffic counts
and shown a simulation on how the South Mountain freeway would ease congestion
and reduce travel times.
Hazlett said that while the South Mountain Freeway would help relieve congestion
on other freeways, it really wouldn't impact the Broadway Curve much.
The biggest beneficial impact, he said, would be on arterial streets. Without
the proposed South Mountain Freeway, area freeways will carry 63 percent of the
traffic, and arterial streets, 37 percent. With the freeway, freeways would
handle 72 percent of the traffic, freeing up neighborhood streets to local
traffic, he said.