Village planners reject
The Arizona Republic
Apr. 26, 2006 12:00 AM
In no uncertain terms, the Ahwatukee Foothills Village Planning Committee voted
against the proposed South Mountain Freeway along Pecos Road.
Before the unanimous vote Monday night, committee members said they wanted to
send a message to Mayor Phil Gordon and City Council that the Pecos alignment
would be bad for their community.
"I can see no redeeming value for Ahwatukee," Max Masel said.
With the South Mountain Citizens Advisory Team set to choose its preferred
alignment for the freeway's western leg on Thursday, groups around the region
are weighing in on the project.
The planning committee's vote came less than a week after the mayors of
Chandler, Mesa and Gilbert issued a statement in favor of building the freeway's
eastern leg along Pecos Road.
The mayors' position angered some of the roughly 35 Ahwatukee residents gathered
for the meeting.
"Who designated them as regional transportation planners?" asked
William Ramsay, calling the mayors' statement "unequivocally the shallowest
and most sophomoric thing I've ever read."
First proposed in 1985, the 22- to 26-mile South Mountain Freeway would hook up
to Interstate 10 in the West Valley and south of Ahwatukee, bypassing downtown
Phoenix. It could cost up to $2.4 billion.
The Arizona Department of Transportation hopes to make a decision on the freeway
in late 2007 and finish construction in 2015, spokesman Matt Burdick said.
Though ADOT could decide as early as June whether the western leg of the freeway
will link to I-10 at 55th Avenue, 71st Avenue or Loop 101, Ahwatukee will have
to wait at least another year before a final word on whether Pecos will serve as
the eastern alignment. The alignment could claim hundreds of homes in Ahwatukee.
The only alternative would be putting the freeway on land owned by the Gila
River Indian Community. Despite ongoing talks, the tribe has not consented to
any study of the freeway on its land.
"A lot of the environmental concerns we've heard from residents in
Ahwatukee . . . are shared by the Gila River Indian Community," Burdick
Retorted committee member Blanche Prokes, "You can appreciate that they
don't want to hear about Pecos Road when you (ADOT) have made promises"
about transportation projects still unfinished on the community's land.
Laurel Arndt, who sits on both the Village Planning Committee and the freeway
advisory panel, questioned ADOT's ability to deliver valid data on the eastern
alignment before a final decision was made.
Her experience with the west-side analysis has left her dissatisfied and nervous
that it's a sign of things to come when debate on the Pecos alignment resumes
after a summer break, she said.
"The detailed information we (freeway Citizens Advisory Team) have had on
air quality has been pathetic. The detailed information we have had on design
has been pathetic," she said.