In a proposal offered by regional transportation experts, only the first mile of the Williams Gateway Freeway would be constructed. But the existing highways in the East Valley all would receive carpool lanes, and the long-awaited Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway might finally come to life.
On Wednesday night, a committee of the Maricopa Association of Governments will hear this plan, which is the experts' solution to a $6.6 billion budget shortfall for improvements to the Valley's transportation infrastructure.
With the slumping economy bringing in less tax revenue for freeways, roads, buses and light rail, MAG has had to make decisions on what stays and what goes in the plan desired by voters when they approved a half-cent sales tax in 2004.
Possibly going is three miles of the Williams Gateway, officially known as state Route 802; what would be built is the interchange with the Loop 202 Santan Freeway and a four-lane highway to Ellsworth Road. The original proposal had six lanes running from the 202 to the Pinal County line at Meridian Road.
According to MAG, this will cut about $300 million from the deficit.
Also gone are general-purpose lanes on the Loop 202 Santan Freeway from the Interstate 10/Pecos Road interchange to the U.S. 60 interchange and beyond to Gilbert Road in Mesa on the Red Mountain Freeway; on-ramps and off-ramps at Loop 202 and Mesa Drive, and Lindsay Road and the 60; and at the Super Red Tan interchange at U.S. 60 and Loop 202, a dedicated high-occupancy vehicle connection.
Most of the proposed cuts would take place in the West Valley. There, an entire freeway won't be built: state Route 801, from southwest Phoenix through Avondale into Goodyear. This would save $1.8 billion.
But under the plan, improvements in the East Valley include:
HOV lanes would be built on all parts of the 202.
The Loop 101 Price Freeway would receive a new general-purpose lane.
Both kinds of lanes would be added on I-10 from the Loop 202 interchange to Riggs Road.
An interchange would be constructed at I-10 and Chandler Heights Boulevard.
On U.S. 60 between Val Vista Drive and Power Road, there would be an addition of two general-purpose lanes and one HOV lane.
On U.S. 60 between Crismon Road to Meridian Road, there would be an addition of one HOV lane plus an interchange at Meridian.
The South Mountain Freeway was first proposed more than 25 years ago. But it has been delayed time and again by funding problems, and squabbling between transportation officials, Ahwatukee Foothills homeowners and the Gila River Indian Community.
Under MAG's plan, at a cost of $1.9 billion, a six-lane highway would be built from I-10 and 59th Avenue in the West Valley to the East Valley's I-10/Loop 202/Pecos Road interchange.
If the proposal is approved by the Transportation Policy Committee at its meeting Wednesday night, the plan then will go before MAG's Regional Council next week.