Mayors correct on need
for South Mountain Freeway
The Arizona Republic
Apr. 27, 2006 12:00 AM
Three Southeast Valley mayors have waded into the
discussion about the proposed South Mountain Freeway, urging the Arizona
Department of Transportation to build it along Pecos Road.
We imagine Ahwatukee Foothills residents would prefer that Chandler Mayor Boyd
Dunn, Gilbert Mayor Steve Berman and Mesa Mayor Keno Hawker had stayed out of
the matter. Yet the mayors are correct in pointing out that it's an issue of
Homeowners in the detached Phoenix village have been battling for months against
the growing likelihood of the last leg of Loop 202 etching the south border of
their community. After being lulled into complacency when the freeway, on the
books since 1985, had not been built, it seems a cruel twist that - surprise! -
ADOT really does intend to build it.
Many Ahwatukee Foothills residents expressed
their opposition to the Pecos Road route again Monday night during a Village
Planning Committee meeting. And the mayors' letter only heightened their ire.
The Southeast Valley mayors may be overstating the case when they claim that the
freeway will free Ahwatukee from the "stigma" of its location. That
location, tucked in amongst the foothills of one of the nation's largest city
parks, is the pride of many Ahwatukee residents.
But the mayors are correct in pointing out that, absent the South Mountain leg
of the freeway system, traffic problems will worsen throughout the Southeast
Valley. Many people who live in the Southeast Valley commute into Phoenix for
work. That daily migration, like the flow and ebb of a tide, affects everyone on
the streets and freeways of this part of the Valley. Traffic conditions that are
clogged today will only worsen over the next decade. Then what?
It's understandable that Ahwatukee Foothills residents do not want the freeway
built along Pecos Road. Many of them bought homes in the village because of its
unique set-up. Tucked away from the main city behind South Mountain and divided
from neighboring cities by Interstate 10, Ahwatukee is a physically defined
community with a culturally embraced community feeling.
But the regional transportation needs are greater than the ambience of the
village. Those needs, predicted by the Maricopa Association of Governments, will
burgeon to the point that building the South Mountain Freeway is vital to
keeping traffic moving on I-10 at the Broadway Curve.
If cars cannot move on the freeway, more traffic will overflow into arterial
streets until they, too, are clogged beyond capacity. The South Mountain Freeway
is, by most reckonings, a necessary link of rubberized asphalt. Dunn, Berman and
Hawker acted as responsible public leaders by stating for the record that if a
different alignment cannot be found, the freeway project should move ahead as