Ahwatukee Foothills News: Loop202 Opinion

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Loop202 Opinion

Letter: Myopia, utopia, and the South Mountain Loop 202

Allison Hurtado’s article, “Freeways have economic benefits” (AFN, June 25), demonstrates the myopic view proponents have of the proposed South Mountain Loop 202. For proponents, there are only benefits to consider, never costs. While there may be benefits attributable to this proposed project, there certainly are costs, and it is these costs that must be carefully considered in the process of deciding should the freeway be built or not.

Just to be clear, opponents of the South Mountain Freeway (SMF) are not against economic growth; it’s just that we don’t favor economic growth at the expense of the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the community we live in. And the SMF will adversely impact all three and a lot more. This we know. Bureaucrats within the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) and the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) are playing their “damage mitigation” game in an effort to get the project approved, but anyone following this can see that using the existing Pecos Road alignment will be catastrophic to Ahwatukee and South Mountain.

Proponents of the SMF need to put on another pair of glasses to view this project through a clearer set of lenses. For example, the article quoted Mr. Roc Arnett, president of the East Valley Partnership, extolling the virtues of the proposed SMF as if it were a ride at Disneyland. The reality is the proposed SMF will be a dirty, congested, accident-filled urban corridor. Saying travel times will be reduced in perpetuity is utopian. Using the example “Johnny’s T-ball game and Suzie’s dance practice” as economic benefits is appallingly shallow, and doesn’t even begin to justify an outlay of at least $2 billion-plus dollars of public money, not to mention the heavy costs associated with the impacts to Ahwatukee neighborhoods and South Mountain.

I would also like to address two other points made in the article. There was reference to ADOT having already purchased land for right of way as some kind of justification or de facto approval for the project. ADOT may have purchased land for right of way back in the 1980s, but it is still required to meet the stricter National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process for approval. Now, 12 years and $20 million in public funds later, ADOT and MAG have struggled to even reach the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) phase, and it will be another six to 12 months to get past the DEIS phase. ADOT and MAG may have right of way, but they still don’t have their freeway.

Finally, the article references a poll commissioned by the organization We Build Arizona showing “a majority of Maricopa County voters still approve of the freeway.” This is the height of anecdotal and bias, and is an obvious attempt to show public support for a project that is anything but popular — except within the corridors of ADOT, MAG, and the East Valley Partnership.

William Ramsay

Letter: We do not want the freeway

It is interesting that David Gilliand’s June 23 letter to the editor, “Just build it already,” wherein he states that he lives two blocks from the Loop 202 and he states, “this causes no pollution that I am aware of.”

I live in Ahwatukee and when I drive on Pecos Road to Interstate 10, at times the warning signs flash of a high pollution day and to take the bus or carpool.

We do not need the Loop 202 freeway and all its baggage, nor do we want it.

Joe Campbell

Letter: Just build it already

Very tired of hearing all the gripes and complaints about the Loop 202 west extension. Just build it. It is no closer to homes than the East Loop 202 or the Interstate 10, which is less than two blocks from my home in the retirement section of Ahwatukee (this causes no pollution that I am aware of). This has been on the drawing board for almost 20 years; we have wasted thousands of dollars for study after study. BUILD IT NOW!

David A. Gilliland

Letter: Proposed freeway would be bad for Ahwatukee

There have been many articles on the proposed Loop 202, pros and cons.

I worked and commuted for over 12 years to the west side as I worked in the trucking industry. I definitely do not want the truck by-pass, which it really is, to become a reality. I do not believe Ahwatukee residents realize how many trucks will go through this neighborhood and how it will affect them.

When Interstate 80, Interstate 70, Interstate 40 are closed or impending weather, those vehicles drop to the southern route, which is Interstate 10.

Those who do not live close to Pecos Road will still receive the effects of the exhaust up to 3 miles away, as well as noise. Both Desert Vista High School and Kyrene de los Lagos Elementary School will be affected.

The cost of the project is prohibitive while crime will also increase in Ahwatukee. For those who live in Ahwatukee, don’t wait and wonder how this came to be. Get involved.

Ed Robota

Letter: South Mountain Freeway will be by-pass for all I-10 traffic

The South Mountain Freeway is a unique freeway in the Phoenix Valley because it is the only freeway that connects with Interstate 10 in two locations; one on the west side at about 59th Avenue, and the other south at the Pecos Road/Loop 202 intersection. This by-pass would give all I-10 truckers, drivers, military and hazardous waste transporters the opportunity and access to avoid Metropolitan Phoenix.

Therefore, all I-10 traffic would take the South Mountain Freeway shortcut it provides through the Ahwatukee Foothills and Gila River Indian Community area. General drivers behavior, especially by interstate truckers, would easily find the freeway a great time saver shown on their GPS maps.

This enormous increase in traffic brings in huge amounts of air and noise pollution, possible hazardous waste accidents, mammoth congestion for local traffic, and ruins the appearance and property values of the entire surrounding community. The impact of the South Mountain Freeway is environmentally unjust and disproportionately high to the 70,000 or so residences of the Ahwatukee Foothills and Gila River Indian Community populations.

I urge everyone to write protest letters to the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) during this (June 18) public hearing phase of the Draft Environmental Impact Study so that public disapproval is documented against the freeway.

Carol Sampson

Letter: Easier commute or air quality?

How can those who argue for building the Loop 202 through Ahwatukee on the basis of easier commutes to the West Valley also feign concern about air quality. If you are concerned about air quality, move closer to your work and commute less. Don’t build a massive highway to carry thousands of carbon-polluting vehicles.
Unless of course, you are actually only worried about the pollution in YOUR backyard and care nothing for the families living in Ahwatukee.

Randy Richmond

Letter: Call for action is NOW on proposed freeway

We need to have STANDING ROOM ONLY at the Arizona Department of Transportation’s (ADOT) Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway Study Meeting on June 18 at the Foothills Golf Club, 2201 E. Club House Drive, from 4 to 7 p.m. The time is NOW to voice our deep concerns about the highly negative impacts this proposed freeway will have on our village.
Here is a direct quote from the ADOT Fact Sheet: “Traffic volumes for the proposed freeway are expected to be in the range of 137,000 to 142,000 vehicles per day by 2030, which is comparable to current use on Loop 101 and existing segments of Loop 202. The analysis of travel patterns shows the demand for the freeway consists of mostly regional traffic, not traffic moving through metro Phoenix.”

This is a public statement advising it will be a TRUCK BY-PASS ROUTE. If this Loop becomes a reality it will PERMANENTLY alter the quality of life in our village.

The last meeting ADOT had on this freeway was at the Grace Inn (November, 2005) and we had over 2,000 people in attendance — the highest attendance of any public meeting ADOT hosted on this topic. Let’s break that record — your input is vital to our future — please attend.

Jim Jochim

Letter: Proposed freeway only benefits west side

Where are the “silver linings” for the Ahwatukee Foothills area from the proposed South Mountain Freeway?

I have the entire 1,000-plus page South Mountain Freeway (Loop 202) Draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS) document in my possession, reading it cover to cover. I have yet to see any positive benefits for the construction of this segment of the Loop 202 in our village. Yet, there are very strong financial and logistical outcomes for the folks on the western alignment along the 59th Avenue and Interstate 10 interchange if the freeway is constructed.

On the eastern side there will be permanent pain and suffering due: disrespectful scaring to South Mountain, increased noise and air pollution, destruction of a church and several hundred homes, plus increased local traffic volumes on the interior streets. Also, no true relief on the I-10 as the connection point on the west side is 59th Avenue and most people in my village do not work close to that location.

In all fairness to the Arizona Department of Transportation/Maricopa Association of Governments planners they project a 7 percent reduction in volume on the Broadway Curve (if the freeway is completed), but to put that number in perspective — if 100,000 vehicles travel on the Broadway Curve everyday that means the number drops to 93,000. I would probably not even notice that difference in the level of service on that curve.

So if you want to net this all out it comes down to the fact that the west side wins both financially and with improved traffic flow and the east side pays — permanently with the destruction of a portion of the freeway, a church, 100-plus homes and increased air and noise pollution.

I welcome any and all comments on my logic.

Jim Jochim

Letter: Reality check on proposed Loop 202 expansion

Now that the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) has finally been released by the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) on the proposed South Mountain Freeway Loop 202 expansion, we can start doing a feasibility check on the proposed freeway.

Based on a review of the document the preferred alternative on the eastern side is labeled E1, or as we know it, Pecos Road. On the western side the preferred alternative is labeled W59, or at the intersection of Interstate 10 and 59th Avenue.

The distance between these two points is 22 miles and this number is important because to travel to the downtown area (Central Avenue) one needs to back-track and travel east on 1-10 for about 5 miles to reach the downtown corridor, or for a total distance of about 27 miles.

However, if one currently lives in the Ahwatukee Foothills area the distance from the intersection of Pecos Road and the I-10 to the downtown area (Central Avenue) is about 17 miles.

Therefore, who would want to drive an extra 10 miles, or 59 percent, to reach a downtown (Central Avenue) by using the proposed South Mountain Freeway Loop 202? Not me with the price of gas being what it is today!

Jim Jochim

Letter: Freeway through Ahwatukee would be devastating

This is in response to the letter regarding the Loop 202 extension through Ahwatukee Foothills (“Freeway is coming so shift fighting efforts to a worthier cause,” AFN, March 21).

I don’t know any of these people you are referring to that are supposedly complaining about the air quality getting worse due to the freeway installation, we all know the air quality is bad everywhere in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Myself and my neighbors primary concerns are noise, blight (because if you think the Native American tribe won’t take advantage of having freeway frontage that they can develop into another Las Vegas, you’re nuts) and mainly loss of the beautiful Sonoran Desert. The wildlife will be affected as well, there won’t be anymore.

The Phoenix metropolitan area, which you are so familiar with, used to be a beautiful place 20 years ago. Urban development (freeway installation mainly) has ruined what was once a sight to behold, just look elsewhere in the Valley. There is precious little of this beauty left in the metro area, Ahwatukee is one of the few exceptions. The air quality has little to do with our concerns. I have been a resident of Phoenix for going on 20 years and have always felt that Ahwatukee is a jewel in an urban area. I’d like to say is and not was when speaking of my community. Adding a freeway through Ahwatukee is the most devastating thing we can do our community.

Kate Cain

Letter: Extending Loop 202 will do little to relieve today’s traffic problems

William Ramsey’s letter, “No Build South Mountain” (AFN, March 2), was one of the more logical reviews of the issue I have read. Attending the so-called public meetings of the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) or Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG), I have seen how little public comment means relating to an issue. I noticed reports are a formality and often show no interest in real-life problems.

Back in the ’70s when I rode across the South Mountain I visualized community growth. Some we have today to the south exceeds my hopes, to the north leaves years of disappointment. My sense of justice asks, “Why?” All the way to McDowell we find much of what comes of neglect following a Boomtown that lost its magnet. What was the problem, the same great climate, the jobs were near but yet the investments and roads were all to the fringe of the city that had offered so much before. Urban sprawl, the opportunity for a fast buck, then move on and on. Leaving blight, failed small businesses, empty public buildings, long commutes, more pollution and costs.

Moving cities not traffic had become the objective of ADOT, later MAG and East Valley movers and shakers. The automobile gave them the opportunity to avoid the cost of developing the inner city. South Mountain Freeway is another to heck with the people project. It is wrong for many reasons. Some pointed out by Mr. Ramsey.

Travel Baseline Road west after seeing where U.S. 60 dumps traffic, north with Interstate 10, there is the congestion problem. Not a road to Avondale. Travel west on Baseline, note the flat developable land and sparse new construction. Off to the south, residential and recreational opportunities. To the north new developments all the way into town or the airport there are opportunities for urban renewal. Developers spend more for raw state or BLM land than it would cost them to restore parts of south Phoenix; help the middle-class working community. Developers elsewhere are required to plan for mass transit and community centers. As an incentive the future could call for light rail to go south of the airport and continue southeast.

MAG and ADOT are planning to repeat growth that has not been healthy and/or wise. We need to restore Phoenix as the heart of the Valley. Open it for tourist, and yes, too much distance can turn off even retirees. Extending the Loop 202 will do little to relieve today’s traffic problems. High polluting cross-country traffic in particular could use Interstate 8 to an improved Route 85 north to Buckeye, then west on 1-10. That would remove a major source of pollution and congestion.

Cross-country traffic that is going to south California bypasses Phoenix on Interstate 8. Let’s encourage the same for the Los Angles areas. Another north-south road or rail may play a part in the future before Loop 202 would be complete. We do not need eight more lanes on I-10 from U.S. 60 through downtown Phoenix. That’s ADOT’s present plan. Some want to use that congestion as an excuse for toll roads.

Big cross-country trucks should be restricted from using it north or south of South Mountain Park. An extension of U.S. 60 over and beyond I-10 along Baseline would relieve the problem.

Richard T. Tracy, Sr.

Former chair of Phoenix Mountains

Preserve Council (1972-1981)

‘No build’ is the correct option for Loop 202

As a longtime resident of Ahwatukee, I have watched development to the betterment of our community; Pecos Park is a prime example.

The Loop 202 extension would be a detriment beyond measure. The Gila River Indian Community agrees with this through its vote denying the freeway.

All one needs to do is drive on Interstate 10 into Phoenix and see the brown haze that sits over downtown. I certainly don’t want that on this side of the mountain. I will do all I can to get the Arizona Department of Transportation to realize the “no-build” option is the only option.

Let’s not waste anymore of our taxpayer money on this issue and drop it. I, for one, like living on the edge of town and breathing the much cleaner air.

Kenneth Bradley

Freeway is coming so shift fighting efforts to a worthier cause

I would like to make some comments about the letter, “Loop 202 extension not needed” (AFN, Feb. 17). Let me start by giving you some background on the time my wife and family have lived in the Ahwatukee area.

My parents moved to Arizona in 1985 and settled in the first Mountain Park Ranch community. And I moved to Phoenix in 1989. My wife’s parents purchased two acres of land on Priest Drive in 1966, and this is were my wife grew up.

Now the reason that these facts are important is: It gives credibility to the timeframe that our families have lived in the Ahwatukee area, and I can speak with experience as to the growth and development on this community.

My main point for writing in is; if I read or hear one more person talk about how they love living in Ahwatukee because of the “clean air” I’m going to throw up.

It is obvious that these individuals do not travel out of the Ahwatukee area because if they did they would see that Ahwatukee already has the same pollution that the rest of Phoenix has. All you have to do is drive across Interstate 10 to about Kyrene Road and turn around and look at the brown cloud hanging over Ahwatukee.

Will you please stop with the clean air crap! The air was clean during the time my wife grew up here and it was also clean when my parents and I move to Ahwatukee. The air is no longer clean, so please stop with this poor argument.

Also, I must ask this question of these same people; do you honestly think that they spent all the money building the interchange at I-10 not to eventually build the extension through? Are you all this naive?

Stop wasting time with these lame arguments and realize the reality that this extension will be built, and yes you will have even more pollution than you have now and there is not a thing you can do about it.

I suggest that you spend your efforts actually helping a charitable organization instead of wasting time on this project; you will be much more satisfied and accomplish a lot more.

Dave Kleespies

Loop 202 extension not needed

As a longtime resident of Ahwatukee, I have watched development to the betterment of our community; Pecos Park is a prime example. The Loop 202 extension would be a detriment beyond measure. The Gila River Indian Community agrees with this thought through its vote denying the freeway.

All one needs to do is drive on Interstate 10 into Phoenix and see the brown haze that sits over downtown. I certainly don't want that on this side of the mountain. I will do all I can to get ADOT (the Arizona Department of Transportation) to realize the no-build option is the only option. Let's not waste anymore of our taxpayer money on this issue and drop it.

I, for one, like living on the edge of town and breathing the much cleaner air.

Kenneth Bradley

A vote against or for the freeway on Indian land

Dear Editor:

The placement of the South Mountain Loop 202 Freeway on the Gila River Indian Reservation should be determined by the enrolled members of the Gila River Indian Community, not by elected officials.

First, the enrolled members of the Gila River Indian Community should vote on whether they want the 202 freeway on their Gila River Indian Reservation. A vote by the members of the Indian community will tell their elected officials (community council, governor and designees) what their decision is.

If, they agree to the placement of the freeway on this Indian reservation, the enrolled members of this community should again vote to determine what alignment will be acceptable.

The Gila River Indian Reservation is for the Pima and Maricopa tribe's homes, schools, churches, health care facilities, recreation facilities, police/fire departments, governmental offices and economic development projects to meet the needs of this Indian community.

The elected tribal officials (community council, governor, and designees) have an obligation to the enrolled members of the Gila River Indian Community. The only and best way to decide this issue is through a vote.

Renay Peters

Lillian Wilson Rideau

Gila River Indian Community

Loop 202 extension: Heavy price to pay for efficiency

Dear Editor:

I have been an Ahwatukee resident since June and bought a home close to Pecos Road knowing very well that the Loop 202 extension may someday be built. I have been following the debate in the Ahwatukee Foothills News with great interest and what I find absent from all conversation are the pros of building the extension. In very simple terms the facts as I so far understand them are as follows: Voters approved the extension as part of a master plan. The Loop 202 has not been built in part because we are broke. The 202 is envisioned between Pecos and the residential neighborhoods of Ahwatukee, in some areas going straight through existing homes, a church and other structures. Some homes have been purchased and land set aside for displaced property owners, so this process has been going on for some time. Just about everyone agrees land south of Pecos would be better suited for the extension, but this land is not subject to eminent domain and its owners may or may not be interested in allowing construction on their property.

I drive down the lonely stretch of Pecos daily, admiring the Estrella Mountains, dust devils, many bicyclists and joggers. A late night drive is especially stunning in the direction of the mountains. Not once have I ever seen traffic. I can't help but think, "What the heck were the voters thinking?" What interests does tearing up this landscape serve? Would these same voters feel differently today? If there are perhaps commercial considerations, I'd like to hear them. I am a business person and road warrior so I certainly see the benefits of efficient travel. I could see perhaps those coming up Interstate 10 from Tucson in route to the West Coast, the 202 extension cuts off some travel time and perhaps traffic? I am hard pressed to see any other benefits. Certainly a heavy price to pay for some efficiency!

Would love to see in this paper those parties that have to gain by building the 202 extension to address this issue publicly, so at least this current voter may perhaps get behind you or oppose you?

Brian O'Leary

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