I was pleased, at long last, to see the Susi Fathauer commentary (Ahwatukee Foothills News, Aug. 19). Finally someone is speaking over the much louder clamor of the NIMBY’s (“not in my backyard”) and their protests against the logical and needed build around our community of the Loop 202 southwest extension.
I served on the State Transportation Board in the 1980s when the County Bond Issue passed and the new freeway system was laid out for public view. In 1986, as an ADOT board member, I voted to approve the location of the new freeways defining were they were to be constructed. Prior to that vote, I flew over the vast 1986 desert inhabited by only rabbits and coyotes as far as the eye could see. That formerly deserted desert was later known, once inhabited by people, as Ahwatukee Foothills. In 2009 the only exception to the completion of that massive freeway building begun in 1985 is the still un-built southwest Loop 202 around the edge of our community.
Why has the Pecos corridor loop remained un-built?
First, there was a decision to delay because freeway construction needs were greater in other parts of the Valley. Next, delays were the result of declining revenues, which interfered with the state buying all of the right of way. Then, there was delay while politicos debated the merits of making the freeway a toll road. Finally, today’s delay is thanks to the very vocal minority, which has set up one delaying roadblock after another, making it appear as though the opinion of the minority is the opinion of the majority.
This vocal minority has even created an atmosphere where City Council candidates have had to take a “no build” stand in order to avoid the wrath of the minority group.
The Loop 202 extension is logical. It is designed to complete a Valleywide freeway system. Without the southwest Loop 202, the system looks like a four-wheeled automobile with only three tires on it. It is incomplete and inefficient.
In evaluating the merit of the vocal opposition’s arguments, keep in mind that the proposed freeway alignment has been in the public domain for all to see and plan for or around, since 1986. Developers and speculators made choices to buy and build in the face of that information and in or near the long established roadway path. Now the vocal opposition would have the entire freeway system remain incomplete and prevent the functional free flow of traffic around our community because of bad choices made in the face of the need for and the practicality of the Loop 202 southwest connection.
Certainly, the Loop 202 construction will inconvenience, in some cases greatly inconvenience, some people; however, it cannot be said that fair warning was not given about the eventual freeway build.
Art Atonna was a member of the State Transportation Board between 1983 and 1989. He moved to Ahwatukee Foothills in 1991 and practiced law between then and April 2007. He is currently employed by the city of Tempe.