Phoenix (December 10, 2010) – Ahwatukee residents are not enamored with the current Loop 202 plan in which a freeway cuts through their community and South Mountain. Those plans can change if the Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) Tribal Council decides in January to recommend a possible extension of Loop 202 on reservation land south of Ahwatukee Foothills.
Officials from the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG), the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) and the GRIC transportation technical team have been meeting since August to discuss freeway alignment alternatives. Between now and January, GRIC members will attend meetings at which they can voice opinions and ask questions about the possible extension of Loop 202 on reservation land. Tribal officials, including Gov. William Rhodes, have said the primary motivation for this alignment alternative discussion is not economically driven but rather about protecting the ecology of South Mountain.
Ahwatukee residents were encouraged to hear that GRIC’s freeway discussion is moving forward because the current plan involves taking out a church, more than 100 homes in Ahwatukee Foothills and 64 homes in south Phoenix, and cutting through three ridges in the South Mountain preserve.
A series of meetings are scheduled to take place before the wish of Ahwatukee residents may be granted by a vote of the GRIC Tribal Council in January. The first community meeting took place Saturday in Gila River’s District 6 south of Ahwatukee and Chandler. Community members who attended the meeting reviewed maps of the current planned alignment – a 22-mile eight-lane freeway that would connect Laveen to Chandler through Ahwatukee and South Mountain Park - and a new plan to build the freeway about one-half mile south of Ahwatukee on reservation land. Community members presented several questions and comments, including concern for the cultural and economic impact of the freeway altogether as well as the related impact upon people in terms of things like air quality.
Upon completion of the community meetings, the Tribal Council will either vote on whether to approve the freeway alignment or defer the issue to a ballot in which the community at large will make the decision. Either way, Ahwatukee Foothills residents are encouraged by the ongoing discussion and the willingness of GRIC to consider this freeway alternative from the current alignment which they have been actively opposing.
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