The South Mountain Freeway: A Project that will link, save and grow our Arizona community

Commuters, businesses, and community members, alike, are excitedly awaiting the completion of the largest freeway construction project in the history of our state, the South Mountain Freeway project. This expansion will be a direct link between the East and West Valley, providing an alternative to the I-10, which traverses through downtown Phoenix.

This expansion could not come at a better time. Maricopa Association of Governments predicted in their regional forecast that from 2010-2035, Arizona will see a 50 percent growth in population, housing and employment. Almost half of this growth is expected to occur in the southern and southwestern portions of the region, which aligns perfectly with the placement of the South Mountain Freeway.

Although the 22-mile long project is still in the construction phase, it is already making an impact. The Arizona Department of Transportation explained that of the 90 construction contracts granted, which total $84 million, 71 went to disadvantaged business enterprises, and all but two are Arizona-owned companies.  From its conception, the South Mountain Freeway project has provided approximately 1,400 jobs to hardworking Arizonans ranging from landscapers to masons.

Upon completion, many individuals, including the community of South Mountain, have high hopes for what the expansion will bring. South Mountain Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Frank Ceballos expressed his expectations for the project, “It will bring great resources to the Laveen community and we do believe that it is going to help reduce traffic down Baseline road.”

Looking at the current freeway layout, the only option for commuters to get to Laveen heading westbound is to take Dobbins, Baseline, or Southern, which results in heavy congestion within these areas. Ceballos explained that, “now with the 202 expansion, you’re gonna have a bigger option. So hopefully that’s going to reduce traffic.” That’s exactly what ADOT anticipates will happen. ADOT stated that, “the South Mountain Freeway will provide travelers direct access to the East Valley and West Valley, saving approximately $200 million per year in travel time for motorists throughout the valley and a 17 percent traffic reduction on other valley freeways.”

Shorter commute times are not all the expansion is expected to deliver. Sprouts is slated to open at 59th avenue and Baseline come the completion of the project. “We weren’t able to get a Sprouts in the South Mountain community, forever, but once they heard and saw that the 202 is going to be put in place, now we are starting to see really big, large, companies come into the Laveen, South Mountain area,” said Ceballos. The opportunity for easier access to the community is piquing the interest of business owners and literally driving them to Laveen.

The estimated time of completion of the expansion is anticipated to be as early as late 2019. You can check ADOT’s website to receive current, up-to-date notifications regarding the project.

Audra Carver

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