South Mountain Freeway gains final federal approval

The Valley’s Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway, proposed by regional planners since the 1980s, has received
final approval from the Federal Highway Administration, paving the way for the Arizona Department of Transportation to move
the project forward.

The Record of Decision, signed March 5 by the Federal Highway Administration, grants the final approval necessary for
ADOT to begin the process of acquiring right of way, complete the design and begin construction of the 22 mile long
freeway
to serve the metro Phoenix region.

The Record of Decision will allow ADOT to begin final design and subsequent construction of the South Mountain Freeway.

Acquisition of right of way is expected to begin immediately. ADOT has determined that, pursuant to an unsolicited proposal
submitted to construct the freeway, construction will follow a public private
partnership path, helping to speed construction
and reduce overall costs. The freeway would not be tolled under any public private
partnership proposal, but would include a
private group involved with final design, construction and a 30-year
agreement to maintain the freeway.

“The South Mountain Freeway has been approved as a part of two elections that have provided the region with additional
transportation funding. Voters recognized the need and the benefits of this project to provide connectivity, travel reliability and
route options for a growing region,” said ADOT Director John Halikowski. “Both ADOT and the Maricopa Association of
Governments agree this is a critically needed project, and ADOT is breaking new ground by moving it forward under a publicprivate
partnership agreement to more closely involve the private sector, helping to save money and speed construction.”

The proposed South Mountain Freeway has been a critical part of the Maricopa Association of Governments’ Regional
Freeway Program since it was first included in funding through Proposition 300, approved by Maricopa County voters in
1985. The freeway was also part of the Regional Transportation Plan funding passed by Maricopa County voters in 2004
through Proposition 400.

The South Mountain Freeway is the last piece to complete the Loop 202 and Loop 101 freeway system necessary for highquality
regional mobility, according to regional planners.

“This is a great day and an important milestone in the history of the Valley’s transportation system,” said Maricopa Association
of Governments Chair Michael LeVault, mayor of Youngtown. “It has been a long time coming, and we look forward to the
improved mobility and economic opportunities that this freeway facility will bring to our region.”
The environmental review process, which included preparing both draft and final environmental impact statements, was
conducted in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act and identified the preferred route for this freeway
corridor – running east and west along Pecos Road and then north and south between 55th and 63rd avenues, connecting
with Interstate 10 on each end. The Final Environmental Impact Statement documented the analysis of potential impacts
associated with the freeway and the nobuild
alternative, and addressed comments received on the draft and final
Environmental Impact Statements. The draft environmental report was published in 2013, followed by publication of the Final
Environmental Impact Statement in 2014.

The Federal Highway Administration has decided to identify the Preferred Alternative (a combination of the W59 and E1
Alternatives) as the Selected Alternative for the South Mountain Freeway project. This decision along with supporting
information, including responses to public comments received on the Final Environmental Impact Statement, is documented
in the Record of Decision.

The freeway will be constructed with four lanes in each direction – three generaluse
lanes and one HOV lane – and modern
features that have made Arizona freeways stand apart from others.

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