Evie Cornell and her husband, Mel, had good reason to attend Peoria’s meeting on the Agua Fria truck road reliever project.

“We live in Ventana Lakes,” Evie Cornell said. “Our property backs up to Beardsley Road.”

The project, which is designed to divert gravel trucks from Beardsley Road onto an alternate road to be built next year, is intended to reduce the number of trucks that drive through Ventana Lakes and thus reduce the pollution and particulates in the Peoria community’s air.

The Cornells were two of dozens who made their way to the Sunrise Mountain Library for an informal presentation on the project. Peoria and design staff answered questions. Evie Cornell said she liked what she heard.

“We appreciate what Peoria is doing,” she said. “The truck route will not take 100 percent of the trucks off of Beardsley, but it will cut the traffic considerably and that is something.”

The project calls for the creation of an alternate roadway along the Agua Fria River between the intersections of 112th Avenue and Rose Garden Lane and 107th Avenue and Pinnacle Peak Road. The primary purpose of the roadway is to divert gravel truck traffic, though local motorists will be allowed to use it, as well.

Adina Lund, Peoria’s project manager for the alternate truck route, said she was taken aback at the community response.

“I did not think we would have quite this many people here,” she said. “We were actually in here setting up a half an hour before the meeting’s start time, and we had people already coming in to check it out.”

Lund said she fielded many questions, though much of them were along the same lines.

“People want to know when construction is going to start,” she said. “They also want to point out where they live on the map and ask me if this route is going to help them.”

As for the reaction to the project, Lund said that, too, has been similar.

“People are quite surprised at how long a city project takes to complete,” she said. “But they are also happy to hear we are doing something.”

Sherry Muoio, Susie Hughes and Dottie Kraft were three of those at Monday night’s meeting who were happy to see progress being made. All three live in Ventana Lakes. In fact, they live in the same cul-de-sac.

“We live right where the trucks come out of the gravel operation,” Hughes said. “My backyard is basically Beardsley Road.”

The three neighbors said they have been concerned about the air quality for years and hope the alternate route will offer some relief.

“For 14 years, we’ve been dealing with the dust and the pollution and the particulates,” Muoio said. “We’d seen an increase in truck traffic during that time of hundreds of trips. This should help tremendously.”

The design phase of the project began this month and is expected to wrap up by October. Construction is scheduled to begin in January 2012 and should be completed by the fall of that year. Kraft said it can not come soon enough.

“The route they chose is going to be fine,” she said. “It’s going to be away from us.”

Jeff Dempsey may be reached at 623-876-2531 or jdempsey@yourwestvalley.com.

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