Members of the South Mountain Citizen’s Advisory Team (SMCAT) have until July 24 to submit the official recommendation from its group on the proposed South Mountain Loop 202 Freeway to the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT).

On June 12, ADOT sent out the official form SMCAT members will fill out. It has two options: “Action” or “No Action.” There is also a space for each group to include an explanation of their decision.

There are 30 groups represented in the SMCAT including local homeowners associations, village planning committees, chambers of commerce, school districts and environmental groups that are stakeholders in the project.

The SMCAT met for a final time on June 11 and had a chance to ask questions to the study team who compiled the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on the freeway questions. Many of the questions asked during the meeting focused on the Canamex route. Some members of the SMCAT are convinced the South Mountain Freeway is being built with the sole purpose of completing the Canamex corridor and creating a path for trucks to travel from Mexico to Canada through Arizona.

Ben Spargo of HDR Engineering said ADOT believes the congressional definition of the Canamex corridor is broad enough to allow local jurisdictions to select the exact route. ADOT and MAG have adopted its preferred route as coming up Interstate 10 from Tucson, going to Interstate 8, and connecting to State Route 85, and continuing north to I-10. The route would then continue further west to Wickenburg and potentially use the Wickenburg bypass to connect to the U.S. 93 to the Nevada border.

Chad Blostone and Michael Hinz, both representing HOAs in Ahwatukee, brought up their concerns that the actual language from Congress designates Interstate 10 as the route and leaves a gap from I-10 to reach U.S. 93. ADOT and the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) have not had their preferred route re-designated with Congress.

“I understand that MAG and ADOT prefer that route but the congressional designation isn’t that,” Blostone said. “Why don’t we differentiate between those two?”

Spargo said ADOT would look at altering some language and adding the exact language of Congress’ designation.

The SMCAT was dissolved at the end of the June 11 meeting, but each group was asked to submit their final recommendation to ADOT before July 24. ADOT will include and consider all of the comments and votes from the SMCAT in the Final Draft Environmental Impact Statement, but the SMCAT is not a decision-making body.

The SMCAT has voted once before on which western alternative ADOT should choose. The group recommended the 101 alternative, but ADOT ultimately went against the SMCAT’s suggestion and selected the 51st Avenue route as its preferred alternative.

The public can also comment on the DEIS through July 24. The entire statement is available for download online at southmountainfreeway.com.

ADOT is hosting several community forums before the deadline. Members of the study team will be in attendance to answer questions from the community. There will be one meeting in Ahwatukee Foothills on Tuesday, June 18 at the Foothills Golf Club, Saguaro Room and Theatre, 2201 E. Clubhouse Drive, from 4 to 7 p.m.

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

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