Proposed South Mountain Freeway will do permanent harm to our environment - East Valley Tribune: Ahwatukee Foothills

Proposed South Mountain Freeway will do permanent harm to our environment

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Posted: Friday, June 14, 2013 6:11 am

REALITY TIME is fast approaching on the conclusion of the public comment period on the proposed Loop 202 for the South Mountain Freeway, as we have just until July 24 to submit our opinions.

The good news is we have an ideal time and location here in our village because on June 18, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Foothills Golf Club, Saguaro Room, 2201 E. Clubhouse Drive, our comments will be recorded for the official Draft Environmental Impact Study, or the DEIS. Please attend this public meeting as it is vital to our future lifestyle here in the Ahwatukee Foothills area. The proposed Loop 202 will do permanent harm to our environment.

After the DEIS period the FEIS (Final Environmental Impact Statement) will follow and then the Record of Decision (ROD) — the final word on the project. Once the ROD is issued the public comment period is over — just like in a wedding ceremony when the presiding “person of the cloth” says; “speak now or forever hold your peace.” It will be too late.

Here are a few of the negative impacts of the proposed freeway:

• Proximity to schools. We have two elementary, one middle and one high school either immediately adjoining or within 1/8 of a mile. Air quality will diminish as an estimated 137,000 to 142,000 vehicles per day will use the South Mountain Freeway, of which approximately 20 percent will be commercial vehicles.

• Destruction of a portion of South Mountain Park, which our Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) neighbors view as a sacred mountain. Overall impact on the quality of life in the Ahwatukee Foothills area as sound walls cannot prevent the noise rising over due to elevation (upwards) in the Foothills.

Now if you are in the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) “Take Zone” you are probably one of the lucky ones as you get to relocate, compliments of ADOT, but your neighbor who lives across the street who gets to stay and now will look forever at the massive noise buffer wall.

For all of you that like to run or bike on Pecos Road, cross that option off your list permanently as that is not allowed on an interstate.

Now, if you are going to use the new Loop 202 to go to Downtown Phoenix, good luck as you just added another 10 miles to your route. The loop from I-10 (San Tan/Pecos) to 59th Avenue is 22 miles, and then add another 5 miles to back-track to Central and you have a total of 27 miles. The current distance from the same starting point is 17 miles — now it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to answer which route to take.

There will be a substantial increase in vehicular traffic on neighborhood and local arterial streets. The loss of the 32nd Street access and the elimination of Pecos Road will cause local traffic to use surface streets. Liberty Lane and Chandler Boulevard will become the default replacement for Pecos Road.

Another 800-pound gorilla waiting in the wings is the planned CANAMEX Highway and ADOT doesn’t like to talk about all of the truck traffic it will carry, but it is real and once the South Mountain Freeway Loop 202 is open it will become the truckers route of choice.

There are many other issues like the wells that supply the lakes for The Foothills and Lakewood and the utilities that are buried under Pecos Road etc.

So, please attend the public meeting next week on Tuesday, June 18, as our future is on the line!

• Jim Jochim has been an Ahwatukee Foothills resident since 1995, and he’s treasurer of Protecting Arizona Resources and Children (PARC).

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