Officials pour pavement for Phoenix-area South Mountain Freeway

Dec 21, 2016, 8:03 AM | Updated: 12:54 pm

Arizona Department of Transportation officials begin pouring concrete for the South Mountain Freewa...

Arizona Department of Transportation officials begin pouring concrete for the South Mountain Freeway construction on Tuesday, December 20, 2016. (Photo: Arizona Department of Transportation)

(Photo: Arizona Department of Transportation)

PHOENIX — Arizona transportation officials began pouring pavement for the South Mountain Freeway on Tuesday, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.

The freeway, which will run 22 miles to connect the East Valley to the West Valley by the Interstate 10, will be an extension of the Loop 202 and is expected to be completed in 2019, three years earlier than originally projected.

The 9th Circuit U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal ruled in November that it would not issue an emergency order to stop construction after opposition from the Gila River Indian Community and a coalition of environmental and community groups.

“The South Mountain Freeway is going to be a major driver of economic development Valley-wide and will relieve major congestion in one of the most crowded stretches of highway,” Councilman Michael Nowakowski said in a press release shortly after the appellate court’s ruling.

The Gila River Indian Community sued to block construction in 2015, citing the destruction of “sacred” lands as a reason to halt the project.

Full-scale construction on the freeway is expected to start in 2017. Its early completion is projected to save the state about $122 million.

The project will also include a 15-foot-wide multi-use trail along the existing Pecos Road alignment from 40th Street to 17th Avenue.

Plans for the freeway construction took off in March 2015, when the federal government gave final approval for the nearly $2 billion loop extension.

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Officials pour pavement for Phoenix-area South Mountain Freeway