Report outlines environmental impact of proposed South Mountain Freeway

AHWATUKEE, AZ - An environmental report will be available Friday outlining the impact the South Mountain Freeway would have on the environment.

The freeway would connect eastbound I-10 to westbound I-10 by extending the Loop 202 at Pecos Road, looping around Laveen to connect to I-10 on the Westside at 59th Avenue.

Once the study is evaluated by the public and made into a formal draft, a final decision will be made on whether to go ahead with the construction.

The plan has been in the works since voters approved funding in 1985, and has met several delays including failed negotiations with the Gila River Indian Community to build partially on their land.

The stalemate over the years has brought a lot of frustration and uncertainty to homeowners living along the proposed route.

A hundred homes and a church along the route will have to be destroyed in order to build the freeway. ADOT has already purchased some homes.

Homeowners like Kelley Roberts are frustrated in the amount of time it is taking to make a decision.

Roberts has one of the first homes built in the Ahwatukee subdivision near Pecos and Chandler Boulevards.

"I say that my house is 'lane four' jokingly,"  she said. "I knew about the plan when I bought. I'd rather it didn't  happen but if it is going to then I wish it would just happen already."  

She explains that the uncertainty of whether the freeway is going to be built paralyzes her. She is unable to sell her home and is unable to do the upgrades she would like to do if she is able to stay.

Resident Tanananisha Willis-Vanarsdale made the decision to move in two years ago, despite warnings from some neighbors. She's worried now that she heard about this new report.

"It would affect us, tremendously. Because we would have to go through the whole process of finding a place to go,"

Tanananisha says she'll make sure to voice her opinion during the public input period.

"I actually like our area, and how it is now, and that there is not a lot of traffic here," she said.

ADOT spokesperson Timothy Tait said the study outlines the consequences of building the freeway and the consequences of not building it.

"The pollution is expected to be similar to what was seen with other freeway expansions like the 101 and 202," he said. 

"If you don't build it, there still will be pollution consequences. The growing congestion at the Broadway curve will continue to create pollution issues in the Valley."

There will be public hearings and a 90 period for the public to review the environmental report before it is made into a final draft.   

After all input and final drafts are completed a decision whether to go forward is expected in 2014.

With approval the construction would begin at the start of fiscal 2015.

The report and information about the public hearings can be found on the Arizona Department of Transportation' s website.


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