For years, the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) and the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) have been spouting a story of how the South Mountain Freeway (SMF) will save our Valley from traffic congestion and air pollution. Now that experts have weighed in, it is clear that these claims are untrue and that this freeway proposal is a major fraud perpetrated by MAG and spread by ADOT in the form of its recent Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS).
Traffic engineering experts from Protecting Arizona’s Resources and Children (PARC) have examined demographic data (both the old 2005 data that ADOT used in the DEIS and the latest 2012 data) and other relevant factors. They have “run the traffic models” just as MAG supposedly has. The experts’ determination is that the freeway would result in no appreciable change in traffic congestion anywhere, including on Interstate 10 and the U.S. 60.
Further, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has examined the DEIS and has come to the same conclusion as PARC’s air quality experts: ADOT does not know how to do proper air pollution modeling. Hence, EPA gave the bogus DEIS its lowest possible rating — inadequate. Correct modeling shows that air pollution, in an area already designated as non attainment for two different types of air pollution, would get worse rather than better.
MAG and ADOT have also lied about the true purpose of this “freeway.” The SMF is little more than an attempt to fill in a gap in the CANAMEX highway, which runs from Canada to Mexico through Arizona. This freeway would provide a shortcut for CANAMEX truck traffic (bringing additional air pollution into the city core that should remain outside the metropolitan area) as well as for commercial interests around 51st Avenue. This freeway has never had a legitimate purpose and need, and now the truth is out.
In spite of MAG and ADOT propaganda, the Broadway Curve would be unaffected by the freeway, and air pollution would get worse rather than better. Taxpayers have spent over $100 million furthering MAG’s agenda of public deception on this matter. For more information on these and other freeway issues, visit the PARC website at www.protectAZchildren.org.
It is time to launch an investigation, starting at the highest levels of MAG, to find out where this fraudulent freeway/truck bypass idea began, who has influenced it, whether bribery or “favors” are involved, and why it has been allowed to continue for nearly 30 years, chewing up millions in taxpayer money.
• Ahwatukee resident Connie Squires is a retired English teacher and secretary of Protecting Arizona’s Resources and Children (PARC).