PARC strongly advocates that a REAL freeway truck by-pass must be completed at or near the location of the current State Route 85 BEFORE any more consideration is given to the proposed Loop 202.
Whether or not ADOT and MAG want to admit it, the current proposal for the South Mountain Freeway is primarily for a truck by-pass. The proposal would run mega-tons of hazardous materials THROUGH South Mountain, forever destroying valuable wilderness land resources, permanently scarring the world’s largest city park, and forever destroying lands that are sacred to the Gila River Indian Community. The truck by-pass would also produce corresponding mega-tons of air pollution that would create a compound environmental disaster for the region and would also result in the loss of billions of transportation dollars because the air pollution levels would not be able to meet EPA standards. Transportation solutions can and must be found that have far less environmental impact for the Valley of the Sun.
Consideration should be given to the proposed alternatives to the SMF. If State Route 85 or something nearby becomes a freeway, then a true truck by-pass would exist around the Valley of the Sun and most "through" truck traffic would use it. That is currently not the case. State Route 85 is a standard highway with traffic lights and other standard intersections.
If the I-10 is rerouted around the Valley of the Sun, then a true by-pass would exist for ALL “through” traffic, and the traffic would use it. This would provide a tremendous traffic and air pollution benefit for Phoenix. Many other cities are beginning to reroute major interstate highways around their urban areas for this reason, as well as the fact that it encourages downtown development.
While routing “through” traffic around the Valley of the Sun will not solve all Phoenix traffic and air pollution problems, it will provide a very significant and important first step. Without this first step, decisions are made that just compound problems already existing within the Valley of the Sun.
Once the truck by-pass is in place, consideration should be given for traffic alternatives that do not cut through valuable resources such as South Mountain, do not permit truck traffic through the South Mountain corridor, and encourage truck traffic to stay completely outside of the metropolitan area. Light rail can be considered for regional transportation. Rail options can also be explored for moving warehouse goods to and from trucks outside the area, or warehouses can be relocated.
Many options are possible. MAG must be encouraged to rethink and update its Regional Transportation Plan, using new and creative ideas (many other cities are setting examples for how this can be done) and making the Valley of the Sun a better place to live and work.