Tribal Members Claim Discrimination Over 202 Expansion

July 30, 2013

Members of the Gila River Indian community will hand deliver a civil rights complaint to the state transportation department Tuesday.

South Mountain The South Mountain freeway project has been 30 years in the making. (Photo by Al Macias-KJZZ)

It is the latest twist in a long battle over the Loop 202 South Mountain expansion. The Gila River Alliance for a Clean Environment claims the Arizona Department of Transportation discriminated against tribal members by planning the expansion so close to South Mountain.

The group’s Lori Riddle said transportation officials have not adequately involved tribal members in public debate.

“They’re diminishing our concerns about the sacredness of the mountain and they are not really paying attention to our voice,” Riddle said.

Riddle’s group filed the civil rights complaint with the Federal Transit Administration and will present it in person to ADOT Tuesday morning. Meanwhile, ADOT said it has exceeded all requirements for public input adding that an entire chapter of a 12 year environmental study is dedicated to its coordination with the Gila River Indian Community.

“Furthermore, a day-long public hearing was held in downtown Phoenix, with shuttles provided to bring people in from other parts of the Valley, including the GRIC Governance Center in Sacaton,” ADOT spokesman Tim Tait said.

Construction could start in 2015.

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