Michael Goodman with Phoenix Mountains Preservation Council raised concerns that ADOT would move forward with building the extension to Loop 202 over Pecos Road even if serious discussion still took place regarding whether or not to build it.

The Phoenix Mountain Preservation Council (PMPC) will take members of the public on a hike in South Mountain Preserve Saturday, Jan. 18 to a peak with a view of the area the South Mountain Freeway is expected to go.

“We wanted to give people the opportunity from more of a bird’s eye view to see the alignment,” said Robin Salthouse, president of PMPC. “We wanted to give a better visual of what that alignment would mean to the community and of course South Mountain Preserve.”

The group will leave from the 19th Avenue and Chandler Boulevard trail entrance at 9 a.m. Saturday and take the Pyramid Trail to the Bursera Trail. A South Mountain Park Ranger will be on hand at the beginning to answer questions about the preserve — not about the freeway.

Salthouse said the hike will take about two hours and participants should plan on a moderate to difficult hike, since they will be climbing to a peak before turning around and coming back down. She plans to be at the peak to point out the proposed route for the South Mountain Freeway to hikers in the group.

“It won’t be a perfect view, but from that vantage point you can follow Pecos and see the casino so you’ll get an idea where it will be on the west end,” Salthouse said. “It’s about the best view we can provide without hiking a much steeper trail.”

This event is the first of several coming up to remind the community of the South Mountain Freeway and the need some groups feel to stop the project. Ahwatukee-based Protecting Arizona’s Resources and Children (PARC) is organizing another hike in South Mountain in February and is working with the Arizona Senior Olympics to host a 5K Walk to Save Pecos in March. Each event will provide information on the project to the public and encourage people to donate to help fight it in court.

“There’s a big attitude from people I’ve spoken to that it’s a done deal and it’s going to happen, but if Phoenix Mountain Preservation Council and groups like Sierra Club and PARC have anything to do with it, we’ll be fighting it to the death,” Salthouse said. “The only way it will change is if people get involved. They can’t sit on their couch and let someone else do it.”

The Arizona Department of Transportation is currently reviewing comments from the public about the Draft Environmental Impact Study for the South Mountain Freeway, which was released in 2013. They are expected to release a Final Environmental Impact Study in 2014, which will be used to obtain final approval of the project from the federal government.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com.

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