suggests path for South Mountain Freeway
In a departure from a 2-decade-old plan, a
citizens advisory panel voted Thursday night to connect the western leg of the
proposed South Mountain Freeway to Interstate 10 at Loop 101.
"It was very painful for us," Tolleson Mayor Adolfo Gamez said.
The 15-member group did not take a formal vote but made the decision through discussion and consensus. The members, who are volunteers from various backgrounds and geographic areas, spent an hour ranking the value of qualities they'd like to see in a freeway and then weighing how well each proposed route suited their preferences.
The result of the evaluation came as little surprise to the team, many of whom opposed the two other proposals, at 71st Avenue and 55th Avenue.
"People in Laveen do not want it on the 55th . . . We don't want to be the sacrificial lamb," said Doris French of Laveen.
Prior to the vote, David Lafferty of Tolleson argued against the 101 connection, calling it an "everlasting devastation . . . that would split the town in half."
As first proposed in 1985 and then approved by the Maricopa Association of Governments in 1988, the South Mountain Freeway ran south from Interstate 10 around 55th Avenue, curved east at South Mountain Park and followed Pecos Road before reconnecting to I-10.
A federal study begun in 2001 required ADOT to review multiple options for the freeway's alignment. Several west-side routes were considered before planners narrowed the choices to 55th Avenue, 71st Avenue and Loop 101.
Building the freeway at Loop 101 could cost up to $2.4 billion and claim more than 500 homes.
Formed in 2002, the South Mountain Citizens Advisory Team will take a summer break before reconvening to debate the eastern segment of the freeway, including the controversial Pecos Road alignment.
Reach the reporter at (602) 444-7801.