South Mountain Freeway on track with Army Corps of Engineers hearing set

Clean Water Act permit required for work to occur in waterways

PHOENIX – While the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has scheduled a public hearing on an Arizona Department of Transportation permit application for Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway work in areas deemed waterways, the project remains on track for completion in late 2019.

ADOT’s project team will move forward with other construction while the May 9 hearing is pending.

Any work occurring in a designated waterway that falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency requires what is known as a Section 404 Clean Water Act permit. Along the 22-mile South Mountain Freeway corridor, these areas, including the Salt River, various washes and a conveyance channel in Laveen, are being been roped off and identified by signs saying “Waters of the United States.”

After ADOT submitted its permit application in 2016, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held a public review period that ended on Feb. 7. One comment, from the Gila River Indian Community, requested a public hearing.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Regulatory Program, which evaluates permit applications for most construction projects occurring around lakes, rivers, streams and other areas deemed Waters of the United States, has the discretion to hold or not hold a public hearing when it receives such a request.    

ADOT has worked closely with stakeholders to plan a South Mountain Freeway that not only meets strict environmental standards but also addresses one of the most critical transportation needs in the Valley: an east-west alternative to Interstate 10 through downtown Phoenix.

A 13-year analysis by ADOT and the Federal Highway Administration, the most extensive environmental review of any highway project to date in Arizona, took into account more than 8,000 formal comments from the public before the project received federal approval in 2015. That includes developing a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement that complies with federal law and follows best practices for transportation projects.

The hearing, which is open to all, is scheduled for 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, May 9, at the Boys and Girls Club of the East Valley, Gila River Branch-Komatke, 5047 W. Pecos Road in Laveen.

For more information on the public hearing and permit application, please visit spl.usace.army.mil and search for South Mountain Freeway SR 202L.