growth pushes Loop 202 plan
Doug Murphy, Staff Writer
Explosive growth is driving the push to construct the South Mountain Loop 202 Freeway. At last week’s meeting of the South Mountain Citizens Advisory Team members were presented with numbers galore – a population in Maricopa County that will double from 3.1 million to 6.24 million by 2030 and vehicle miles driven also doubling from 93 million miles in 2004 to 197 million miles in 2030.
The South Mountain Loop 202 was first envisioned in the 1980s to provide an east-west route for travelers to help relieve congestion in Interstate 10. When completed, the proposed freeway is projected to carry between 140,000 and 162,000 vehicles a day between I-10 in Ahwatukee, around and through South Mountain Park, reconnecting with I-10 between 55th Avenue and the current Loop 101/I-10 interchange.
If population figures prove correct the need for an alternative east-west freeway will become even more critical according to Bob Hazlett, a senior traffic engineer from the Maricopa County Association of Governments that is responsible for regional transportation planning. According to Hazlett, the west side of Maricopa County will add 674,000 people and 288,000 jobs in the next 25 years, compared to the East Valley which will add 376,000 people and 288,000 jobs And while encouraging people to live in one area and commute to another for work is not generally considered a sound urban planning philosophy, it seems to already be accepted in the Valley.
Thursday’s meeting that she already knows of people who were looking forward to living on the west side and working in the East Valley at businesses like Intel and other high-tech companies. And a study of license plate registrations at the Pecos Park-and-Ride lot at 40th Street and Pecos Road show that 60 percent of the people who use the RAPID bus to get to downtown Phoenix live in Pinal county, most in the rapidly growing city of Maricopa.
But Jim Jochim, who lives in Ahwatukee Foothills and opposes the freeway, thinks that’s a poor planning philosophy to build the Loop 202 to make it easy for people to live in the west side and work in the East Valley.
“Shame on them,” for encouraging that kind of commuting. “Imagine what gas will cost in 20 years,” Jochim said after the meeting. On Thursday the citizens advisory team will learn just what it will cost to buy between 355 and 1,439 homes and lots to make way for the freeway. The cost of buying right-of-way is significant because $1.3 billion has been allocated for the freeway but construction estimates alone put the freeway’s price tag at between $995 million and $1.3 billion, depending on the route. The team meets from 5:30 - 9 p.m. April 6 at the Learning Center Hall in the Komatke Community Center at 51st Avenue and St. Johns Road.
For more information visit the ADOT Web site at www.southmountainfreeway.comSupporters for the freeway have their own site at www.complete202.org and freeway opponents rally at www.protectazchildren.org.
Staff writer Doug Murphy can be reached at (480) 898-7914 or firstname.lastname@example.org.