projections back need for S. Mountain Freeway
projections underscore the need for the proposed South Mountain Freeway to
connect the two fastest-growing areas of the Valley, according to engineers for
the Maricopa Association of Governments.
Such projections justify the need for a connector freeway, Hazlett told the advisory team, to the dismay of Ahwatukee Foothills residents who don't want the connecting link to run through their community.
The proposed freeway would link Interstate 10 in west Phoenix to I-10 south of Ahwatukee Foothills.
Hazlett said that while downtown Phoenix is the major job center now, future job centers will spread out along several freeways, 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.
John Rodriguez, an Ahwatukee Foothills and member of the team, disagreed about the need for the freeway. He lives in the Lakewood area of Ahwatukee Foothills, one of the areas that would be most affected by a new freeway.
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 areas.
"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 are looking at jobs in the southeast Valley, especially Chandler with its Intel and other high-tech companies.
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 I-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) vs. downtown. Downtown is probably a little shorter," he said.
The team was 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 relieve congestion on other freeways, it wouldn't affect the Broadway Curve much. The biggest benefit, 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 new freeway, freeways would handle 72 percent of the traffic, he said.
By 2030, the southwest Valley is expected to gain 674,000 residents, and 288,000 jobs. That area's population will reach 1.5 million. The southeast Valley, including Pinal County, will gain 389,000 residents and 287,000 jobs over the next 25 years.
The state isn't expected to decide whether the freeway should be built until 2007.