PHOENIX — A Phoenix-area freeway that took years to be approved, could be finished early for over $100 million less than previously expected.
The Arizona Department of Transportation announced recently the highly contested Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway extension would be completed in 2019, three years earlier than originally projected.
The partnership between the state highway agency and the project team Connect 202 helped speed things along, ADOT Director John Halikowski said in a release. The project’s early date would save about $122 million.
The 22 miles connecting the east and west sides of the Valley will be constructed and maintained by Connect 202 for 30 years after completion.
The project will include a 15-foot-wide multi-use trail along the existing Pecos Road alignment from 40th Street to 17th Avenue.
The federal government gave final approval for the nearly $2 billion loop extension in March 2015.
Getting the freeway built has been a source of some frustration, particularly for many residents whose homes stood in the path of the extension.
ADOT spent just about 20 years buying up properties — houses, businesses and industrial sites — in the southeast Valley for the expansion.
At least two groups filed lawsuits to block the freeway.
In May 2015, a advocacy group sued to halt the plan. In July of that year, the Gila River Indian Community also went to court, citing the loop would desecrate sacred ground.
Homeowners had begun receiving letters from ADOT in October of 2014 notifying them of potential right-of-way issues. Those homes were in the Ahwatukee and Laveen sections of Phoenix, along Pecos Road between 40th Street west to 17th Avenue and around Elliot Road north to Baseline Road.
Homes began coming down in late August 2015.
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