South Mountain Freeway Final Environmental Impact Statement now available for public review

South Mountain Freeway Final Environmental Impact Statement now available for public review

September 26, 2014

South Mountain Freeway Statement Card

Remember when we told you about the South Mountain Draft Environmental Impact Statement last year? Or how about when we gave you a look at the South Mountain Freeway public meetings?

If you’re looking for an update, you’ll want to keep on reading because we’ve got new information to share...

60-day review period begins today

ADOT, in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration, has released the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the long-proposed South Mountain Freeway, the final link in the voter-approved loop system of freeways serving the Phoenix region.

The Final Environmental Impact Statement is the next step in the federally required review process, and provides the public with a final opportunity to review the preferred action as a result of the South Mountain Transportation Corridor Study.

The process

The environmental review process, which includes preparing both the draft and final environmental impact statements, was conducted in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act and has identified a preferred route for this freeway corridor – running east and west along Pecos Road and then north between 55th and 63rd avenues, connecting with Interstate 10 on each end. The Final Environmental Impact Statement also formally documents the analysis of potential impacts associated with the proposed freeway and the No-Build Alternative, and addresses comments received on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement was published in April 2013 and a public hearing was held in May 2013.

The 60-day public review window is twice the amount of time required under federal law.

The 60-day review period ends Nov. 25. Comments received during the 60-day Final Environmental Impact Statement review period will be considered in the Record of Decision, the final decision-making document prepared by the Federal Highway Administration. The Record of Decision is expected to be finalized in late 2014 and available for public review in early 2015.

If the preferred alternative is the selected alternative in the Record of Decision, funding to begin construction of the South Mountain Freeway is available as soon as 2015, according to the state’s Five-Year Transportation Facilities Construction Program. 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 the overall cost of the project. The freeway would not be tolled under any public-private partnership proposal, but would include a private group involved with design, construction and maintenance of the 22-mile-long freeway.

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 high-quality regional mobility, according to regional planners.