The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) is a Council of Governments that serves as the regional agency for the metropolitan Phoenix area. MAG was formed in 1967 when elected officials recognized the need for long-range planning and policy development on a regional scale. They realized that many issues such as transportation, air quality, and human services affected residents beyond the borders of their individual jurisdictions.
MAG is the designated metropolitan planning organization for transportation planning in the Maricopa County region. MAG has also been designated by the Governor to serve as the principal planning agency for the region in a number of other areas, including air quality, water quality, and solid waste management. In addition, MAG develops population estimates and projections for the region.
MAG has developed a Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) to guide transportation investments for the next 20 years. It is a very comprehensive plan that is updated annually. As with any plan of the size of the RTP, it requires periodic updates as ramifications of parts of the plan are better understood.
Unfortunately, with their regional focus, MAG has so far failed to see the “big picture” implications of their plans for the South Mountain Freeway (SMF). Completing the 202 Loop within the “South Mountain Corridor” may seem like a good idea on the surface. However, the unique geography of the region makes this idea a disaster for several reasons:
1. It would be environmentally irresponsible for the region! The SMF would become a truck by-pass, introducing much more truck traffic into the region and increasing pollution.
2. It would be an irresponsible destruction of natural resources identified for preservation! A significant portion of South Mountain would be permanently destroyed. South Mountain is the home of the world’s largest municipal park (the part identified for destruction is within the park), and it is a valuable part of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve.
3. It would be fiscally irresponsible! It would require a disproportionate amount of tax dollars to build the SMF, money that could be much more effectively used for other regional transportation projects.
PARC is dedicated to convincing MAG that the next time the RTP is updated, the South Mountain Freeway must be removed from the plan and appropriate adjustments must be made to improve transportation and air quality within the region while making better use of our tax dollars.
Get involved! Contact MAG members and let them know that the South Mountain Freeway is a bad idea. Urge them to update their RTP with a different strategy for improving transportation in the Valley of the Sun.