Monday, August 3, 2009

Welcome to the Newly Renamed Loop 202 Blog (or not)

It's Loop 202 all the time! Get your Loop 202 news here! Hot off the presses!

Again, our proposed freeway is in the news. Two articles published today in the AZ Republic highlight the most recent plan proposed by MAG to get this freeway back on track:

http://www.azcentral.com/community/phoenix/articles/2009/08/03/20090803ar-smfreeway0804.html

and

http://www.azcentral.com/community/ahwatukee/articles/2009/08/03/20090803ar-freeway0805.html

The first article is geared toward the more general "Phoenix" audience, whereas the second one focuses more specifically on the Ahwatukee perspective. As such, I think you'll see that the first article is slightly more informative about the overall process that has taken place thus far, i.e. the city has made a recommendation to MAG, which will then vote to pass the plans on to ADOT for finalization; this is moving forward. The second article panders to its audience, as do the quotes included in it, so I thought it deserved my treatment.

First, DiCiccio and his political opponents are either misguided (and I don't think this is it), or they are misdirecting their constituents' attention by claiming that the city has had little or no say in these matters. To the contrary, I think our friends in District 7 and on city staff deserve a huge thank you for helping this dying plan rise again out of the ashes. As I reported last month, our city's transportation department moved forward with a street plan that was made to accommodate the north-south section of freeway through Laveen. Furthermore, the city resolved that it supported the Laveen alignment and passed along instructions to MAG and ADOT to "expedite" their plans (backtrack here). Yes, DiCiccio's council seat is up for grabs, thus making this a hot topic; but the primary reason that this is in the news again is thanks to Wylie Bearup in our Street Transportation Department, Ruben Gallego, and Councilman Nowakowski.

Second, Tim Tait of ADOT notes that the freeway is "not a done deal." It is not, this is true.... But it is now working it's way through the process and is perhaps one of ADOT's best candidates for future federal stimulus funds (remember all that talk about money for roads and bridges?). It is also a great cause for the city of Phoenix to rally in support of revenue potential from all the retail tax and professional business development that will assuredly follow the freeway. I can't help but compliment Mr. Tait for his carefully selected words, but let's prove him wrong about a current lack of certainty by helping to steamroll this directive through MAG and ADOT as fast as possible.

Third, Eric Anderson of MAG is hardly quoted or even acknowledged in these articles, but I must say that I have learned a great deal about the mechanics of our freeway plans from him and Tim Tait throughout this process. Remember, he's the staff guy who must work out all the details on behalf of our political representatives at MAG, so I will look to him for news of future progress on this topic, and then refocus my efforts on ADOT.

Many have inquired as to what we as a community can do right now to have our voices heard. Well, as noted, the ball is in the hands of MAG..... and let's not forget the minor impact of Sal Diciccio's campaign on the politics of this issue. While it appears that he has mostly stepped aside to let the freeway happen, he still cannot allow the city's MAG representation to emerge too strongly in favor of the Ahwatukee alignment, no matter where it lies. This is the reason, I think, that we have divided the Ahwatukee and Laveen portions of the freeway for most planning discussions. So we need to express strong unified support for at least the Laveen alignment prior to the October meeting.

I will post more details as soon as I can get them, but please help do the same. Contact your MAG representatives (see list here) and let them know that you want your voice heard by contacting the Director of Communications, Kelly Taft, at ktaft@mag.maricopa.gov. Get a spot on the next meeting agenda to discuss the Loop 202 freeway, or choose from any of the following discussion topics:

  • Necessary local route AND bypass.
  • Necessary for Laveen's commercial growth.
  • Laveen and Desert Ridge are Phoenix's two most promising growth areas.
  • It's already taken almost 30 years........
  • Residents of Ahwatukee and Laveen benefit from proposed hospital.
  • Laveen general plan rivals Scottsdale; freeway further enhances quality of life.
  • Improved South Mountain park access.
  • Any other reasons I may have missed that are important to you.

5 comments:

Patrick said...

Not sure why the formatting is so strange (I didn't want three lines between each paragraph), but I think Blogger is having problems today. Sorry for offending your sense of aesthetics and/or writing style.

timtait said...

Patrick: To clarify one point, this freeway would not be eligible for stimulus funding (at least under the current federal program). Stimulus projects had to be shovel ready, and have generally been identified and preliminarily approved by the Transportation Board. Because the environmental and preliminary engineering work are not complete for South Mountain, it was not eligible for stimulus funds. State Route 802 (Williams Gateway Freeway) was in the same situation and did not receive federal stimulus funding.

-Tim Tait, ADOT

Rocket said...

I sure wish they would biuld it already! I tired of the lack of services in Laveen.

Patrick said...

Tim, thank you for the clarification. I think I pointed out this issue in a prior post, but it's worth repeating that Loop 202 is not "shovel ready." However, I wonder whether we could have something ready in time for the Sept. 15th deadline for TIGER grants. Furthermore, I wonder whether US DOT will get more than $1.5 billion to spend (banks got more than that!), and if they will extend the deadline to allow for many other communities in a similar situation. Some strong lobbying from our state and local governments could go a long way....

Josephine said...

I just saw this post on Facebook.

Dear Neighbors,

Like many of you I was disturbed by the news of the 202 construction not beginning till 2017. This was contrary to my conversations I had with the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) and the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG). After speaking to both entities it is abundantly clear that the news reporter erred in her reporting. The head of transportation for MAG, Eric Anderson, has asked the reporter for some corrections, and has clearly expressed to our office that the dates are incorrect.

Of course it is difficult to exactly determine when the 202 construction will begin or end. There are a couple promising assurances that MAG has made. First, the threat of litigation will no longer hold up this process from moving forward. The highway will go forward no matter what and we will meet the lawsuits as they come. Secondly, all efforts will be made to expedite the building and design of the highway. Lastly, while opponents of the highway will try to find a different route for the highway south of South Mountain that is something that will be adjusted as the process continues, but not an excuse to slow down the original plan.

In October, MAG will meet to vote on this plan. I have spoken with Councilmember Peggy Neely (our representative on MAG) about the importance of the 202. She has been a strong ally for us and will continue to fight with me for the current alignment. Again we do not know exactly the completion or start date of this huge project. What we do know is the start date of 2017 is completely off base. ADOT, MAG and the City of Phoenix are in unison about expediting the building of this necessary highway.

Thank you,

Michael Nowakowski
Councilmember District 7