South Mountain Freeway Construction Overcomes Another Legal Roadblock

Article originally posted on HERE on December 10, 2017

A bridge structure will require a westbound I-10 closure to pour concrete on this future flyover bridge that will eventually connect motorists to the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway. (Photo: Arizona Department of Transportation)
PHOENIX — The construction of the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway freeway has again overcome a roadblock — figuratively, not literally.

According to a press release, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district court’s ruling Friday on all issues. This will allow the Arizona Department of Transportation to move forward with the highway’s construction.

In a statement, ADOT Director John Halikowski called the ruling a “clear victory” and said it will ensure that “progress will continue on a project that will make this a better place to live and do business.”

Halikowski said the department has worked closely with other agencies to “develop the most extensive environmental review of any highway project to date in Arizona and the courts have taken notice of this by ruling in favor of this project at every step.

“We’re committed to delivering on a promise to Maricopa County voters to complete the Loop 101 and Loop 202 system that will connect communities and employment centers while helping position the Phoenix area for continued growth and opportunity,” he added.

The first phase of construction on the roadway began in 2016. It is expected to be finished by 2019, three years earlier than was originally planned.

The project was first approved by Maricopa County voters in 1985 — and again in 2004 — as part of a comprehensive regional transportation plan.

This is not the first time construction of the roadway has hit a legal barricade.

The Gila River Indian Community and a coalition of environmental and community groups have brought the issue to the courts at least six times, citing the destruction of “sacred” lands as a reason to halt the project.

The 22-mile South Mountain Freeway “will provide a direct link between the East Valley and West Valley and a much-needed alternative to Interstate 10 through downtown Phoenix,” according to the department.