The Sierra Club has listed the Loop 202 Freeway extension as one of the worst transportation projects in the U.S. in 2012.
The South Mountain Freeway Project is listed in the Sierra Club’s new national report, “Smart Choices, Less Traffic: 50 Best and Worst Transportation Projects in the United States.” The report assigns a Best and Worst project to each state.
“The South Mountain Freeway project is a proposed 22-mile, eight-lane freeway in Arizona that will cost $2 billion to build,” the report states. “The project has been under consideration in the Phoenix area for over 25 years, but due to a lack of funding and support, it is still in the planning phase.”
Projects included in the report were chosen through a nominations process and were reviewed and selected by report authors and a review committee. Projects were reviewed based on oil use impact, environmental impact, health impact, economic impact and land use impact.
“The best projects provide transportation choices that allow Americans to reduce oil use and meet their mobility needs without driving, while the worst projects reinforce an expensive and polluting dependence on oil,” the report said.
The South Mountain Freeway, as currently proposed, was condemned for cutting through South Mountain Park, sacred sites, and critical wildlife corridors. The report also said the Loop 202 extension would encourage long commutes and exacerbate urban sprawl.
The best project listed for Arizona is the Sunlink, a 4-mile electric streetcar system that will link the University Medical Center, the University of Arizona, Downtown, Rio Nuevo and Congress Street in Tucson.
“Ten percent of Tucson residents live, work, or attend school within walking distance of the electric streetcar line,” the report said. “The project will allow greater access for students and residents to trek downtown without using a car, and provide commuting options for people who work downtown or at the university.”
The Sierra Club released a similar report in 2002. Of the 20 best projects listed in 2002, 80 percent have either been completed or are currently under construction. Of the 26 worst projects listed, five have been completed and seven are currently under construction.
The Arizona Department of Transportation has not yet released a Draft Environmental Impact Study for the South Mountain Freeway. For more information on the project, visit www.southmountainfreeway.com.
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