Dialogue should replace hand-wringing over South Mountain Freeway - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Dialogue should replace hand-wringing over South Mountain Freeway

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Posted: Saturday, November 26, 2005 7:21 pm | Updated: 7:36 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

On the one hand, it’s not hard to understand the anger of Ahwatukee Foothills residents who find out their homes are in the path of a planned freeway. On the other, it’s a little hard to understand why they didn’t read the fine print when they bought their homes that clearly designated the freeway’s path.

The Pecos Road alignment for Loop 202 was established almost 20 years ago, although funding for the South Mountain leg west of Interstate 10 wasn’t nailed down until Valley voters approve Proposition 400 a year ago. That link has long been viewed as critical to the long-term ability of the Valley’s freeway system to handle commuter traffic between the south East Valley and Phoenix.

Among other things, the new freeway would allow I-10 through ruck traffic to bypass downtown Phoenix, freeing up valuable lane space for commuters.

In a perfect world, the Arizona Department of Transportation would have been able to buy up the freeway right-of-way to prevent homes from being built. But the money wasn’t there, so the best ADOT could do was notify homebuyers that their dream homes might someday be bulldozed for a freeway.

The only alternative is to route the freeway farther south through the Gila River Indian Community, but tribal leaders ruled that out several years ago. It would be worthwhile to see if current tribal leaders have a different view, but it would be foolhardy to try bully tactics.

U.S. Rep. J.D. Hayworth, R-Ariz., whose district includes Ahwatukee Foothills, has come out against ADOT’s proposed route. But does he have a better alternative? And if it’s to put the freeway on Indian reservation land, has he consulted the tribal leadership?

There may well be a mutually beneficial resolution to this conflict that accommodates existing Ahwatukee Foothills residents as well as the tribe. If there is, it likely won’t be found in angry recriminations and invectives.

The best hope for reasonable resolution is calm, respectful dialogue.

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