Now that the Draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS) for the proposed South Mountain Loop 202 Freeway expansion has been released, local environmentalists are planning to use the 90-day comment period to tear it apart.
Protecting Arizona’s Resources and Children (PARC), an Ahwatukee-based nonprofit formed to fight the Pecos Road Alignment, is planning a public meeting this Saturday, May 11, from 10 a.m. to noon at Pecos Community Center, 17010 S. 48th St.
The group calls the meeting an informational/strategic planning meeting. Groups from all sides of the issue have been invited to share what they know and the featured speaker will be Steve Brittle, president of Don’t Waste Arizona, who will explain the problems he has found in the DEIS.
Brittle has been involved in National Environmental Policy Act litigation and has been on the local emergency planning committee for years helping with enforcement of the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) since the ’90s. He has read several EIS’s in the past and has reviewed the DEIS that was released on the Loop 202 on April 26. He said immediately he was shocked by the items that were left out of the report.
“It’s obvious that anything that might not be for the cheerleader side for the freeway has been excluded,” Brittle said. “It’s a violation of federal law. I think there should be a criminal level investigation of this.”
Pat Lawlis, president of PARC, said they believe litigation is inevitable. They have already hired attorney Howard Shanker to represent the club in future court battles against the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT).
The DEIS states several times that an alternative on the Gila River Indian Community land has not been studied and will not be unless the tribe agrees to allow it, which it has not. Because of the tribe’s continual denial of the freeway on their land, ADOT is moving forward with the Pecos Road alignment and PARC is moving forward with a fight against the Pecos Road alignment.
PARC is seeking financial support to help pay for legal counsel. Donations are tax-exempt and can be sent to PARC, P.O. Box 50455, Phoenix, 85076-0455.
For more information on the group, visit protectazchildren.org.
To download the DEIS or submit a public comment, visit southmountainfreeway.com.
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