BERMAN, BOYD DUNN, KENO HAWKER COMMENTARY
East Valley Tribune
Berman is mayor of Gilbert. Boyd Dunn is mayor of Chandler. Keno Hawker is mayor
new Pecos Road homeowners angry and construction costs rising, the South
has become a case study in what happens when right-of-way is not protected.
By 1985, the Maricopa Association of Governments Regional
Council had identified a Pecos Road alignment for this important regional free
connecting Interstate 10 with Loop 202. By 1988, the Arizona Department of
Transportation had completed its Environmental Assessment and Design Concept
Report, which clearly identified the Pecos Road alignment and determined that no
structures were located in the path of the future freeway
ADOT began to purchase right-of-way at that time but, due to
funding shortfalls, the project was delayed and additional right-of-way
purchases were put on hold. Despite the delay, the South
remained an integral part of the longrange plan for the Regional Freeway
System approved by voters in 1985 and again in 2004.
Now, because 217 homes have been constructed in the path of
since the alignment was studied, approved and publicized 23 years ago, nearby
residents are trying to persuade the Gila River Indian Community to allow the
to be constructed on tribal land. Should the community decide it is open to
placing the South
on the reservation, this viable alternative should be explored. However, if the
Gila River community isn’t interested, we need to accept this answer and move
forward with the project.
Although the developers were exercising their property rights
and could not be prohibited from building homes in the freeway
alignment, the right-of-way should still be acquired and construction should
move forward on the Pecos Road alignment. With more than 6 million area
residents projected by the year 2030, the South
leg is a critical part of our regional freeway
MAG estimates show the new free
will cut travel times, including shaving more than 50 minutes off a rush-hour
round-trip commute from the Williams Gateway Regional Job Center to Goodyear
Airport. But Ahwatukee residents are likely to benefit most from the freeway
through shorter commute times and increased property values as the subdivision
is freed from its stigma as “the world’s largest cul-de-sac.” Once the
is built, the Ahwatukee resident who works at Metrocenter will not only get home
25 minutes faster, but so will his neighbors, as the South
will alleviate traffic on arterial streets in Chandler, Tempe and Phoenix.
In the years to come, the success of our region will depend
upon our ability to continue to efficiently move people and goods through the
Valley. High-quality employers cannot afford to have their employees or products
perpetually stranded in traffic. Moreover, the passage of Proposition 400 in
2004 sent a clear message that residents throughout the Valley are eager to
build the infrastructure necessary to maintain their quality of life.
should be built as planned and right-of-way for future regional freeway
projects should be secured now.