South Mountain Freeway proposal gets mixed reviews at a public hearing

May 21, 2013

Members of the public are getting their final say on an environmental impact study on the proposed South Mountain Freeway. Arizona Department of Transportation is accepting public testimony on the project through July.

ADOT study ADOT conducted a study Tuesday asking members of the public to give their opinions on the proposed South Mountatin Freeway.(Photo by Steve Shadley-KJZZ)

The $1.9 billion freeway has been in the planning stages for nearly two decades. It would connect the Loop 202 San Tan Freeway around the south side of South Mountain Park to Interstate 10 in the west valley near 59th Avenue.

Robert Johnson is with the “We Build Arizona” coalition that supports the project.

“This freeway is absolutely important to finish the system, to keeping our economy moving to creating jobs to reducing air pollution and to keeping traffic off surface streets," Johnson said.

 But, some members of the Gila River Community located near the freeway said it would create more air pollution in the area. Lori Riddle said her tribe also considers South Mountain a sacred site.

“I know people try to diminish that, but it’s a freedom of religion that we have all rights to, and we feel like they are taking that freedom away from us," Riddle said.

 Hundreds of homes in the path of the project would have to be demolished and a church would be relocated.  ADOT held a 10 hour public hearing on the project that was only sparsely attended early in the day Tuesday.

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