With a questionable methodology for establishing criteria and selecting alternatives, the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) has vetoed every alternative suggested for this freeway. Even though the Pecos Road alternative (requiring a large cut to be blasted through South Mountain) is at least as objectionable as any of the other alternatives, ADOT refuses to consider other alternatives or to drop the idea of the South Mountain Freeway entirely.
Government organizations must show a review of alternatives before a decision is made to spend tax dollars. Unfortunately, it is a common occurrence for a government organization to already know what alternative they want to select ahead of time (pressure from a higher authority, political influence from groups with a vested interest, beaurocratic paralysis?). They go through the motions and find excuses for removing any alternatives except for the one they planned to select all along. ADOT’s actions with regard to the South Mountain Freeway have all the earmarks of this form of “review.”
ADOT and MAG claim that the CANAMEX Corridor will go elsewhere in the valley, yet they have not funded that corridor. One doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that the South Mountain Freeway will become the CANAMEX Corridor by default. ADOT continues to deny that this will happen, yet they say the South Mountain Freeway will need 8-10 lanes. Who are they kidding? It will be a truck by-pass full of Mexican trucks that don’t meet any type of pollution standards. It will also be full of trucks carrying hazardous materials. And all of this will go THROUGH South Mountain!
ADOT has brought together a group of stakeholders with varying perspectives on the proposed South Mountain Freeway concept as a Citizens Advisory Team (CAT). Involving such a group and listening to their recommendations is a very effective way of making a responsible decision. Unfortunately, ADOT and MAG have already proven that they have no intention of listening to the CAT. After getting a CAT recommendation for the route to use for the western section of the proposed South Mountain Freeway, ADOT and MAG ignored this recommendation and chose a different route anyway – undoubtedly the one they had planned to select all along. This is just another example of ADOT’s blatant disregard for being accountable for their actions!
Now ADOT has decided to tie the hands of the CAT as much as possible for the recommendation they will make about the eastern section of the proposed freeway. The only recommendation the CAT will be permitted to make on this section is whether to build the freeway or not. They can’t even recommend whether it should be above or below ground if built. This type of action certainly does not come from a government organization that wants valuable recommendations from a citizens’ advisory group. Rather, it is the action of an organization that is afraid that they may not get away with choosing the alternative they have already pre-selected.