1983: The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) prepares planning studies for the Phoenix metropolitan area that identify corridors for an integrated freeway network. The South Mountain Transportation Corridor is defined as a roughly two-mile wide corridor from I-10 near 51st Avenue, around South Mountain, to I-10 near Chandler Boulevard.
1985: Maricopa County voters approves funding for the MAG’s Regional Freeway System which included a South Mountain Freeway connecting Interstate 10 in the Southeast Valley with Interstate 10 in the West Valley.
1988: The State Transportation Board approves an alignment for the South Mountain Freeway running east and west along Pecos Road and then turning north to connect with I-10 West near 55th Avenue.
1990: April 9, HB 2218 is signed into law during a public signing ceremony. Its purpose being to prohibit state or any subdivisions from building highways within the Mountain Preserve without voter approval.
From the bill:
“A charter city shall not sell, trade, or otherwise alienate, re-designated mountain preserve except by approval of a majority of the electors voting thereon”
1994: Due to a funding shortfall, ADOT identifies 76 miles of planned freeways as “unfunded segments” and later drops some of those segments from the system. The South Mountain Transportation Corridor is designated for potential development as a toll road.
1995: Freeway put on hold once again due to a lack of funding.
1996: A consortium of private companies proposes to build the South Mountain Freeway as a toll road. The consortium would later withdraw its proposal, saying the project was not financially feasible. The South Mountain Transportation Corridor remains a part of the MAG Regional Freeway System but designated as “unfunded.”
1996: Also in 96 the “Borderlands Study” an internal GRIC study is authorized by the Community.
1998: The Borderlands Study is approved by the GRIC council. The results of the Borderlands
study are then used to develop the “GRIC alignment”.
1999: April the State Legislature passed SB1201 which provided State Infrastructure Bank (SIB) funding to assist in financing the acceleration of the Regional Freeway Program by the end of 2007. Governor Jane Dee Hull, ADOT and MAG have prepared plans to complete the Regional Freeway System by the end of 2007 using innovative financing alternatives.
1999: ADOT announces plans to accelerate the completion the entire Regional Freeway System. The accelerated plan included a portion of the South Mountain Freeway.
2000: ADOT starts Citizens Advisory Committee to help update the original 1985 plan.
2000: In anticipation of initial construction of the South Mountain Freeway, ADOT starts a Citizens Advisory Committee to help update the original 1985 plan. Also the City of Phoenix conducts a local study of Ahwatukee Foothills area transportation needs that includes an assessment of freeway options.
Also in 2000 the Gila River Indian Council (GRIC) creates a resolution against South Mountain Freeway.
2001: ADOT buys land in Laveen. This would the first time they buy land within the proposed South Mountain Freeway route.
2001: ADOT begins preparation of a new Location/Design Concept Report and EIS to examine a broad range of alternatives to the 1988 South Mountain Freeway concept.
Summer/Fall 2001: The South Mountain Corridor Team collects base information and issues on the transportation corridor.
Fall/Winter 2001: South Mountain Corridor Team determines that there is a purpose and need to continue the EIS study.
2001: ADOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) began the updated study through an EIS to determine if such a freeway is still needed to meet the needs of the traveling public, where it should be located, and what the environmental, social and economic effects of such a roadway might be. The updated EIS was required due to the many changes in the study area since the original 1988 Environmental Assessment was completed.
2002: January, the ADOT planning process is once again restarted.
2003: During the fall ADOT, FHWA, and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers concur on the Alternatives Screening. Three build alternatives plus options are carried forward into the EIS for more detailed analysis.
2004: Fall, voters approve additional funding MAG’s Regional Transportation Plan – including South Mountain Freeway.
2005: GRIC re-passes a resolution against the freeway.
2006: In June, ADOT announces the W55 (55th Avenue) Alternative as the “preliminary preferred alternative” based on community input, economic impacts, and traffic information.
2006: District six councilman Sal DiCiccio paid by ADOT consultant to persuade GRIC to accept ADOTS proposals to build a freeway on GRIC land.
2007: Public information meetings are held throughout the year to communicate with and receive input from members of the community.
2007: During the month of April, GRIC designates South Mountain as a sacred place/traditional cultural property.
2007: Councilman DiCiccio enters into an agreement with GRIC to develop 75 acres at the Pecos and 40th St. intersection.
2008: ADOT purchases an 84 acre gravel yard at 59th Ave. & Broadway for $15 Million with the help of Sal DiCiccio.
2008: A Study conducted by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and Arizona State University shows correlation between particle pollution and asthma related absences at nearby schools.
2009: MAG updates the Regional Transportation Plan. The revised plan includes reducing the South Mountain Freeway’s footprint to eight lanes with a connection to I-10 at 59th Avenue.
2009: In March ADOT delays a decision on the route.
2009: During the fall, MAG approves $1.9 Billion for the Freeway (despite protests.
Also on December 19, Jan Brewer sends a letter to Govenor Rhodes encouraging a path for the freeway on GRIC land.
2010: January 28, the South Mountain Citizens Advisory Team meets for first time in 14 months.
Feb 1, 2010: GRIC sends letter to ADOT saying their open to freeway on GRIC land.
March 2010: ADOT puts their alignment decision on hold till 2011.
March 29, 2010: South Mountain Citizens Advisory Team meets.
April 2010: Congressman Peter DeFazio Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit (D-Ore) given tour by ADOT.
July 2010 – ADOT & TTT report on alternative routes on GRIC nearly finished.
November 2010: David Schweikert (R-Congress) comes out in opposition of freeway going through Ahwatukee
Dec 2010: GRIC announces that Tribal Council vote to be in January 2011.
2011: Draft EIS and public hearings are expected to occur following a final review of the document by the Federal Highway Administration. Final decision on the South Mountain Freeway will follow the release of the Draft EIS and public hearings and comment.