Pinal County criticizes ADOT road plans

News The Arizona Republic August 22, 2005
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Pinal County leaders claim that a state transportation study underestimates the area’s rapid growth and ignores a dire need for future freeways, highways and expanded roads, reports the Arizona Republic.

The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) is currently performing a study that will evaluate the transportation needs along major corridors in the East Valley and Pinal County, a study that will affect state, county and city transportation planning through 2030. The need for future freeways is being determined by population and traffic predictions.

David Snider, Pinal County supervisor, has not been pleased with the ADOT study. According to the Arizona Republic, he believes ADOT’s population figures to be “woefully inadequate,” and he is upset that the city of Maricopa, one of the fastest growing cities in the country, has not been included in the study.

“Quite frankly, the west side has been ignored,” Snider said. “It’s been growing just as fast as Johnson Ranch and San Tan area, and it deserves to be looked at.”

According to the Arizona Republic, ADOT Project Manager Dianne Kresich said the state Legislature determined the study area, which runs through central Pinal County and the south portion of the East Valley.

Matthew Jamieson, Maricopa resident and beverage distributor who travels the state, is unhappy with the study as well. “Everybody talks about Queen Creek, but we’re even worse shape,” Jamieson said. “We have all of these one-lane roads. When there are foods or crashes, we have to drive 50 miles out of our way to get home. People continue to discount our [population growth] numbers.”

According to the Arizona Republic, the ADOT study is examining whether six-lane freeways, highways or other road expansions are needed to link I-10 through Pinal County to the Superstition Freeway; to link I-10 through south Chandler to the Superstition Freeway; to link Loop 202 in Mesa to U.S. 60 south of Gold Canyon; or to detour U.S. 60 around Gold Canyon.

After months of public meetings and study, Kresich said population figures don’t support potential freeways linking Florence to Coolidge and Eloy, or connecting I-10 and U.S. 60, reports the Arizona Republic.

ADOT officials have based their population projections on a year-old Central Arizona College study that predicted Pinal County would have a population of 1 million residents by 2025, reports the . However, local officials predict Queen Creek, the San Tan area and Florence alone will have 1 million residents before that.

“We expect 100,000 people in Maricopa in five to seven years,” said Maricopa City Council member Edward Ferrell.

Traffic congestion has already been experienced in Pinal County and the south area of the East Valley.

Arizona 357—connecting Maricopa to I-10—handles nearly 50,000 vehicles a day, said Snider. Commuters are already dealing with traffic along I-10 at Ahwatukee Foothills during rush hour, and the city expects to add 20,000 new residents each year, reports the Arizona Republic.

The Casa Grande-Maricopa Highway and other roads around those cities also already have heavy traffic, Snider said. “We’re falling further and further behind,” he stated.

Gail Barney, Queen Creek town council member, agreed saying traffic planning in the area is already behind the curve. “I’m glad we’re doing this, but I wish this would’ve happened ten years ago,” said Blarney.

According to the Arizona Republic, Pinal County Supervisor Sandie Smith said it is important to determine future freeway routes now in order to prevent homes from being built and affected by later decisions.

According to ADOT documents, preliminary study results show a need for the U.S. 60 detour around Gold Canyon and expanded transportation options from Loop 202 in Mesa south through Pinal County nearly to Florence, reports the Arizona Republic.

ADOT has scheduled additional public hearings to gather resident input. “The input will help us develop final recommendations,” Kresich said. “We’re looking for need. Is it feasible to build in a corridor?”

According to the Arizona Republic, ADOT will make its final recommendation to the Arizona State Transportation Board in November. The board will determine the next step, but motorists shouldn’t expect exact routes for years and construction for at least a decade.

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