When you look into the future what do you see? What vision do we hold for this friendly community called Ahwatukee? Thirty years ago there was nothing this side of South Mountain except big farms and ranches fed by snaking irrigation canals. Look at us now!

What will it be like 30 years out? Will Ahwatukee be encircled by an eight-lane freeway with the attendant billboards and exits featuring Subways, Dairy Queens, Chevrons and Love’s truckstops? How many years will it be before the proposed South Mountain Loop 202 Freeway suffers gridlock at rush hour? And don’t tell me you won’t live here by then. Will future generations, perhaps our kids and grandkids, benefit from more vehicles idling on more miles of freeway?

How about together we imagine a different version of the future? How about the transportation money be invested in expanding our current light rail system, providing a network of speedy trains that whisk commuters and families around the mountain into downtown, the U-district and to entertainment and sporting venues around the Valley. Can you see how this might be a brighter outlook?

Envision Ahwatukee-of-the-future with a vibrant central plaza lined with cafes and shaded by native trees, cooled by fountains. How nice if we didn’t have to drive to Scottsdale to find a restaurant in a classy setting. By investing in retail spaces that encourage local small businesses the community grows richer and more integrated. I can picture robust community projects like gardens, spaces for art galleries and workshops.

Suppose we turned our backs on the slicing of South Mountain and the upheaval of sacred Native spaces. Imagine if 30 years from now our legacy was a decision to instead maximize the benefits of our proximity to South Mountain Park. It is still possible to bring about a positive outcome. Visualize a Park Interpretive Center, where school kids learn about the habitat of the Sonoran Desert, our abundance of wildlife, the ancient geology of South Mountain and the Native American history on the land. At the very least, enhanced trailheads should better serve this scenic area’s many hikers.

A choice will be made by the people of our community in less than two weeks, and many of us are casting our votes by sitting on our hands. A monumental decision that will affect us profoundly is going down, and our window to have input closes on July 24. We must all admit to ourselves that the proposed South Mountain freeway, sooner or later, will drastically change the personality of our hamlet. Please take a minute to share your vision for the future. Email to projects@azdot.gov or call (602) 712-7006.

• Gail Cochrane is a 16-year resident of Ahwatukee Foothills.

(1) comment

TaloaTombi

I completely agree with you on this one!! I lived in Ahwatukee for 10 years before moving to Seattle. After 4 years there I moved back with my fiancee. There is no other neighborhood I consider "home". The freeway may be the "convenient" choice but the long-term impacts to the community, environment and way of life are just too negative. Why on earth don't they take those millions of dollars and put them into expanding the light rail system into these communities!!??? I would take it in a second if it were available. It seems like a no-brainer solution to me. Please get out there and make your voice heard people! This freeway is a REALLY bad idea.

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