They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it; for it is money they have and peace they lack.
  -James Earl Jones "Field of Dreams"
and don't go mistaking paradise for that home across the road
  -Bob Dylan "Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest"

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Gila Bend Freeway

So everyday I come home to horrid congestion on I-10 as it passes through downtown as the Papago Inner Loop. Any traffic map you ever see at rush hour has that section in red (I made it red on the map there). It is not mentioned by the Detour Dans of the airwaves because it is always like that, it is not news.

A huge contributor to this problem is through traffic on I-10, which is a major route across the southern US, going from Jacksonville to Santa Monica.

The proposal to relieve this congestion is to build the South Mountain Freeway, connecting SR-202, where it hits I-10 at Pecos Road, to I-10 in the West Valley (I drew in a blue line). This would allow through trucks and other folks wanting to avoid downtown a path around the congestion. The problem with this is that it is hugely expensive to build an urban freeway, that it is years away from even beginning construction and that there are many environmental and political issues standing in its way, not the least of which is that the City of Phoenix has allowed people to build homes in what has long been the planned route.

A reasonable alternative, from where I sit, is for the state to build a freeway along the route of SR-85, from I-8 at Gila Bend north to I-10. This route is already heavily used. Anyone travelling from Phoenix to San Diego, Yuma or Puerto PeƱasco is familiar with this road. As you travel from Tucson north on I-10, there are signs urging motorists to use I-8 to SR-85 to I-10 as a Phoenix bypass, but it is not used so much by truck traffic due to the lack of a freeway.

Building a 4 lane freeway 35 miles through the desert parallel to an existing roadway has got to be cheaper than the planned South Mountain Freeway and could be done much faster. It would seem to me that this could be done as a short term means of diverting traffic and that the South Mountain Freeway could still be built as growth continues.

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