PHOENIX (AP) — Plans for a 22-mile extension of the Loop 202 freeway around the Phoenix area's southern edge are nearing final approval, and the owners of about 200 homes have been told to get ready to find new places to live.
"It's kind of sad because all my kids were born in this house," said James Voss, who bought his home in 2000.
The proposed South Mountain Freeway would extend from Interstate 10 near the Ahwatukee section of southeast Phoenix to Interstate 10 on the metro area's west side.
The project has been on the drawing boards for about 20 years, but the state Department of Transportation recently sent letters to people whose property lies in the path of the freeway.
"The letter was just advising residents — specific residents — that their house was potentially in the right-of-way area for the proposed freeway and that they would soon be contacted by an appraiser to begin the process of appraising their home," ADOT spokesman Tim Tait said.
However, Tait said the department won't begin actually buying properties until the Federal Highway Administration approves the project.
ADOT expects federal approval for the $1.8 billion project early next year. That would set the stage for home demolition in 2015 and the start of freeway construction in 2016. Construction would take four or five years.
"This really shouldn't be a startling revelation to any of the homeowners in the alignment," Tait said. "It's been well-known in the corridor that properties would have to be acquired."
Kelly Roberts, a homeowner who received an ADOT letter, said she has conflicted feelings.
"It was mixed feelings of a little bit of relief that this might be coming to an end, and then feelings of 'Oh, shoot, we're going to be displaced from our home,'" Roberts said.