Tuesday Energy Blogging: Ahwatukee style!

27 Oct 2009 10:25 pm
Posted by: Donna

Because next week is Phoenix City Council elections, and because my friend Dana Kennedy is putting up a fierce challenge to appointed incumbent (and holder of leases to develop parcels of land along the proposed Loop 202 extension in the Tuke) Sal DiCiccio, I thought I’d reprint what my favorite former Republic columnist Jon Talton had to say about the freeway back in 2006:

Arizona uses cheap land, few restrictions and public funding for infrastructure to make the growth machine rich. Cities and towns play along, greedy for sales taxes and development fees.

Aside from some private fortunes, the consequences have often been unfortunate. Everywhere there’s a disconnect between development and everything else, including transportation. Coherent planning is a joke.

Thus, Pinal County spreads out with tract houses while commuters wait on farm roads. Interstate 17 north of Phoenix remains a rural highway from the 1960s. The gridlock on Interstate 10 in the West Valley extends beyond rush hours.

And, apparently, the South Mountain Freeway will be built even if it eats everybody else’s road projects.

The most amazing thing about the mess is the utter lack of creativity.

Here we are, in the 21st century, armed with sobering facts about the direction of energy prices and temperatures, and Phoenix’s peculiar vulnerability to them. And we’re basing our plans on thinking and arrangements from the late 1950s.

When I ran for State Senate, I shamelessly ripped my transportation platform off of Talton columns. This one is about as succinct a take on the Loop 202 situation as you will ever find. It’s 100% right, too. The project needs to be scrapped and replaced with forward-thinking means to address transportation and growth. Talton explains what needs to be done:

Kill the South Mountain Freeway.
• Connect Ahwatukee to the central city with either light rail or commuter rail.
• Link West Valley cities to the rest of the region with commuter rail.
• Re-establish train service between Phoenix and Tucson in preparation for a bullet-train project.
• Upgrade bus service on the busiest or most promising routes.
• Put a moratorium on all new sprawl residential development until comprehensive plans can be drawn up to provide transportation and pay for it.
• Require all transportation projects to have multimodal components. For example, light rail running along a freeway route.

• Establish a consortium for 21st-century transportation research and implementation that would make Arizona a leader in new technologies and approaches.

That sums it up for me but I know that Dana Kennedy doesn’t oppose the freeway outright. She does, however, want it to be studied and to proceed with plans carefully. Because she is someone who wants to be on the City Council out of a desire to serve the community and not her own personal interests, I’d bet on her to be the one to be open to alternatives. For all Sal’s happy horsecrap about wanting to bring the community together to come to a solution, we know that Sal stands to gain hugely if the freeway gets built. No freeway, no cha-ching for Zenith Develpment. That being the case, those who oppose the freeway needn’t bother to listen to a word he says and should just go ahead and mark “Dana Kennedy” on the ballot right now. Those who support the freeway should ask themselves why they’d consider voting for someone as thoroughly compromised, and effectively neutered, on the issue as DiCiccio is. Everyone among us who is not a developer should ask themselves what we gain by blindly following outdated and unsustainable transportation modalities that benefit, primarily, developers.


  1. Comment by New Mexican on October 28, 2009 12:39 pm

    Meanwhile, all those jokes you guys used to make about us, your ‘backwards’ neighbors?

    Let’s see… In New Mexico, we’ve invested in education. We already built the ‘bullet train’ (the New Mexico railrunner that runs all the way from Santa Fe, through Albuquerque and south to Socorro.) We’re already talking about building an extension west to Gallup and one south to Las Cruces one day.

    We’ve voted to tax ourselves to build the world’s first commercial spaceport near Las Cruces.

    And houses are still selling pretty well right now in Albuquerque.

    We’re not afraid of the future. We embrace it. But hey, we still remember all those ‘shoeless New Mexican’ jokes, maybe if this keeps up for another twenty years we can give ’em back to you, our benighted distant cousins.

  2. Comment by Timmys Cat on October 28, 2009 2:15 pm

    Oh yes, kittys peeve. I don’t live in Ahwatukee, but just across the 10. I don’t really feel the love from Phoenix or Tempe. I don’t understand why there is a need for more asphalt instead of a rail line. Sw Tempe & S
    E Phoenix are getting handed their hats by W Chandler for the love. Lots O’ money around here.A train from here through Tempe or Phoenix would be nice to stop and shop. I geuss they’ve got enough. taxes.

  3. Comment by Donna on October 28, 2009 5:09 pm

    I’ve never had anything but love for the 505. Just the other day I commented to Mark that NM might be a good choice if we decide to relocate.

    Your post reminds me of an ex of mine who was from Albuquerque and of Hispanic heritage. He said that when he was in the Navy and stationed in Norfolk, VA he would tell people he was from New Mexico and they’d remark on how good his English was or inquire if he had to get a green card to get in the service.

  4. Comment by Timmys Cat on October 29, 2009 9:56 am

    about us, your ‘backwards’ neighbors?

    Ummm,humm, feellng a bit inferior are we? Best not to broadcast it. I believe the discussion is about Ahwatukee, not your shortcomings.

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