How will opening Loop 202 extension impact commute times?
The Arizona Department of Transportation announced the new Loop 202 extension around South Mountain would be completed by the end of the year.
As Americans migrate to the southwest, Phoenix is set to take in a large amount of new residents, as well as throughout the Valley in smaller suburbs such as Buckeye, which was found as the fastest growing U.S. city according to the Unites States Census Bureau.
The U.S. Census Bureau found Phoenix as the fasted-growing city in the country, with 25,288 new residents between 2017 and 2018, more than any other American city.
According to projections by the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity, the population of Maricopa County will increase by 1.9 percent with 83,465 new residents in 2020.
As populations rise throughout the Phoenix suburbs and begin working in the city, commute times could rise.
According to a 2017 Census survey, there were 2,916,850 workers 16 years and older that commute to work, with a majority, 2,234,990 drove alone in a car, truck or van. Only 317,969 people drove with a carpool, while 58,267 people took public transportation and 57,699 walked to work.
The survey found the average commute time for Phoenix residents was about 25 minutes, while the national average was about 27 minutes.
Renuka Vemuri, a Health Solutions student at Arizona State University, commutes to school from Northern Phoenix in Happy Valley.
“I like commuting because I like coming home, being with my family and having less distractions than living on campus, but the travel time and forgetting things at home can be stressful,” Vemuri said.
Vemuri said it normally takes around 45 minutes to drive to school from home.
The census survey found that total commute time across the country has been increasing steadily. According to the survey, over 14 million people spend an hour or more commuting to work.
The survey also found East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania as the metro area with the longest average one-way travel time, around 38 minutes. The shortest commutes were in Cheyenne, Wyoming and Grand Forks, North Dakota, under 20 minutes.
Paulette Fernandez, an employee at the Phoenix Art Museum, travels to work via the light rail.
“It takes about 30 minutes to get where I need to go and it’s pretty calm most days,” Fernandez said.
Fernandez explained there are pros and cons to using public transportation.
“With a car I’d have more freedom and wouldn’t be limited to public transportation routes, and I’d obviously get around faster sometimes.” Fernandez said. “However, the light rail doesn’t really deal with traffic and is way less expensive than maintaining a car and paying for gas.”
Sophie Huard, an ecology student at ASU, rides to class on roller skates.
“My commuting experience is really fun, but also a bit dangerous,” Huard said. “It’s difficult to rollerblade, mainly on the way to campus due to asphalt on the road or crumbling sidewalks, but once on campus it’s really smooth and easy to skate.”
Huard said that it she normally gets to class within 15 minutes, but when she walks it is closer to half an hour.
Huard also mentioned that some roads and sidewalks she uses are in poor condition, making her ride more difficult and dangerous.
According to data found by the Federal Highway Administration, Arizona ranks as the 18th best state for road conditions and infrastructure. Only 19 percent of roads in the state are in poor condition and only 15 percent of state funding is spent on road repairs.
The new Loop 202, which would directly connect Tolleson to Chandler, would allow commuters driving from the west valley to the east to avoid taking the Interstate 10 through downtown Phoenix.
ADOT revealed the extension would branch off of the I-10 at 59th Avenue and end around 48th street.