stunned by group’s freeway recommendation
Ending four years of debate over where to
connect the future South Mountain Freeway to Interstate 10, the Citizens
Advisory Team recommended the Loop 101 alignment, one of three potential
alignments currently under consideration.
The committee’s recommendation was met
with mixed reaction from the crowd at Laveen’s Komatke Center, which appeared
to be filled mostly with opponents of either the Loop 101 alignment or the 55th
Avenue option. Appearing to be not much of a factor in the deliberations was the
79th Avenue alignment, an option that has fallen out of favor in recent weeks.
Among those on hand for the announcement was
Tolleson City Manager Reyes Medrano, who followed the public meeting by offering
some pointed criticism about the advisory team.
“It was very obvious from the beginning
what the group’s intentions were,” Medrano said. “Everyone had their own
motive and their own agenda, with absolutely no consideration for decorum or the
impact that it’s going to make on an entire community. There were people on
that panel from the 55th Avenue area whose only concern was their own
subdivision, and people from all the way out in Ahwatukee. It was clear that
they didn’t have a clue as to what Tolleson is all about.”
To emphasize his point, Medrano noted that
committee members often referred to Tolleson as “an adjacent community,”
when in reality the 101 alignment would run right through the center of town,
effectively cutting the city in two.
“There’s no adjacency about it,” he
said. “It will be right on top of us.”
However, Arizona Department of
Transportation spokesman Matt Burdick downplayed the significance of the Citizen
Advisory Team’s recommendation, saying it will be only one of several factors
that will be taken into consideration when ADOT makes its decision in June or
“They based their recommendation on 10
issues, while we’ll be looking at dozens more,” Burdick said. “One of the
things we’ll look at that the Citizens Advisory Team did not include in their
analysis is the economic impact that each connection will have on communities.
In Tolleson there would be severe impacts, which is something we’re well aware
While going with the 55th Avenue alignment
would displace an estimated 120 houses and 78 businesses, Burdick noted that the
overall economic impact on that community wouldn’t be as devastating as it
would in Tolleson.
“The neighborhood around the 55th Avenue
alignment is part of Phoenix, which is a much bigger city and could absorb the
impact,” he said. “The impact on a city the size of Tolleson would be much
more damaging. That will be something we’ll strongly consider when we make our
decision a few months down the road.”
When construction wraps up in 2015, the
long-planned South Mountain Freeway will complete the final leg of Loop 202,
providing three lanes of travel in each direction from the West Valley to as far
east as Ahwatukee. Work on the thoroughfare is expected to begin in 2009.
John Machay can be
reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.