Would you pay $7 for a gallon of regular gas in the Ahwatukee Foothills area? The answer is a solid NO — not when it can be bought at most filling stations for around $3.50 a gallon — no one would pay double for the same product.

Yet using the above analogy ADOT (Arizona Department of Transportation) overpaid by 100 percent when it purchased 17 lots in the Calabrea subdivision several years ago and the sad fact is they did it with their eyes wide open!

ADOT has been constantly reminding those who oppose the proposed South Mountain Freeway (SMF) Loop 202 (www.protectazchildren.org) that it was voter approved by Prop 300 in 1985 and again by the voters with Prop 400 in 2004 — yet their own field people some how didn’t get the message.

The harsh reality is ADOT knew the “planned” freeway was going to turn in a north-west direction at the end of Pecos Road — now called the Calabrea Private Community. This is because they interfaced with the people who published the Arizona Department of Real Estate Public Report for Foothills 80 in April of 2004 when the lots in the “take zone” were identified. At this point — no action was taken by ADOT! The first lots in the Calabrea subdivision were sold in August of 2004 to a private investor. That means ADOT had another four months to make a “buy” decision but again, no action taken by ADOT.

About two years later they finally got the message and started buying lots in the “take zone” from the individual investors at virtually double the price. So what they could have bought for $4.0 million — they paid $7.9 million!

In addition there were two lots (in the “take zone”) that ADOT didn’t buy that private individuals bought and constructed beautiful homes on the property — these homes are truly at ground zero — in the path of the proposed SMF Loop 202.

When you add the cost of 17 lots ADOT already owns — along with a value for the two custom homes — the total costs is estimated to be above $10 million dollars. Now, had ADOT acted like time was of the essence it could have saved us tax payers at least $6 million dollars!

Bottom line: WATCH YOUR WALLET — if ADOT has its name on a project.

• Jim Jochim has been an Ahwatukee Foothills resident since 1995. He is treasurer of PARC (Protecting Arizona Resources and Children), has an MBA from Arizona State, a real estate license, and is retired from AT&T.

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