During Tuesday night’s meeting, Kyrene School District Governing Board members discussed the South Mountain Loop 202 Freeway extension.

Jeremy Calles, chief financial officer, presented a brief overview on the history of the Loop 202 and the pros and cons about the freeway in order for the governing board to make a resolution.

This isn’t the first time the district has visited the topic.

In 2008, the governing board signed a resolution where the Kyrene School District encouraged all parties involved to find an alternate route to meet the needs of the citizens without harmful effects on the students in the district.

According to the presentation, the concept for the Loop 202 came about in 1985 being originally approved by voters to have an extension for the freeway.

In recent actions, all members of the South Mountain Citizen Advisory Team came forward with a build or no build recommendation, and the majority came forward with a no build recommendation.

The presentation highlighted that the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) feels the new extension of the freeway will relieve traffic from Interstate 10, along with decreasing air pollution having cars moving at a faster pace through traffic.

Some of the reasons not to build the extension is due to the proposals plan to cut through South Mountain, which is considered sacred by many, Calles said.

“Obviously cutting through it some would feel like it would be cutting through someone’s church and putting a freeway there,” Calles said. “Phoenix’s benefit is coming at a cost to Ahwatukee. While they showed that it would lower the pollution overall for the Phoenix area, they didn’t necessarily deny that it would increase the pollution for Ahwatukee… although they did state it would stay below federal guidelines.”

Several Kyrene schools could potentially be affected by the pollution from the freeway extension, along with some disruptions to bus routes down Pecos Road during construction.

Dr. Pat Lawlis, president of Protecting Arizona’s Resources and Children (PARC), addressed the governing board stating that the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) released by ADOT is in violation of several federal laws.

“The DEIS clearly violates several areas such as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), parts of the Transportation Act, Clean Air Act and the American Indian Religious Freedom Act,” Lawlis said. “Among other results our experts found that there is no need for a freeway in the South Mountain quarter. The freeway would not relieve traffic congestion anywhere in the Phoenix area.”

Lawlis explained the unstated reason for the freeway is to provide a truck bypass, which will cause significant air pollution in the Phoenix area.

“With heavy pollution from the truck bypass, the hot zone of the South Mountain Freeway would extend one half mile from the freeway… 10 Ahwatukee schools and seven others fall within that hot zone,” Lawlis said.

For more information about PARC, visit www.PARCtheSMF.org.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or dochoa@ahwatukee.com.

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