PARC President Pat Lawlis, right, and Secretary Connie Squires stand on the western side of South Mountain, on Saturday, June 29, 2013, where the planned Loop 202 will cut through the ridges.

[David Jolkovski/AFN]

One of the least publicized, but most significant results so far for the South Mountain Freeway (SMF) project is the final results of the SMCAT, or SMF Citizens Advisory Team. This team, picked by the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), is a diverse group of organizations affected by the project and is intended to provide extensive public involvement and ongoing opportunities for community members to express opinions and concerns, a key component of the study process.

The SMCAT has had dozens of meetings over the course of several years and wrapped up its work two months ago with a final vote for or against, as shown on the ADOT website: http://www.azdot.gov/docs/default-source/projects/south-mountain-cat-final-recommendation-summary.pdf.

Two-thirds of the voting members voted “No Build” for various reasons spelled out in their comments on the site. ALL of the members voting FOR the SMF were from the west side, Laveen area, and their comments cited a need for a major north-south road to enable quick access north to Interstate 10, similar to the function Pecos Road serves for Ahwatukee, and certainly not a huge eight-lane truck bypass.

ADOT has no obligation to follow the recommendations of its own advisory team, a fact they demonstrated when the team suggested the SMF link up with the Loop 101 on the west side and was ignored for a 59th Avenue connection. It remains for true community groups like ProtectAZchildren.org to fight the freeway. Please visit the website and provide support through donations and join PARC (Protecting Arizona’s Resources and Children).

Tim Lank

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