Phoenix (September 8, 2010) — The alignment of the Loop 202 western extension is still a subject of debate, but the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) is quietly buying Phoenix homes in the proposed freeway path from people with special hardship cases. The strict program criteria for homeowners is receiving mixed reviews. Eligible owners are those who are struggling to pay their mortgages because of out-of-state job transfers, illnesses or family deaths. ADOT’s decision to buy some houses and not others is creating tension in Ahwatukee neighborhoods. Freeway opponents question why ADOT is buying any homes at all during a state budget crisis and while the possibility of moving the freeway route south onto the Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) Reservation is being discussed.
ADOT has spent $8.7 million in state funds to buy hardship-program homes in Ahwatukee Foothills and Laveen and $79.8 million on commercial and residential property along Pecos Road since plans were first being developed for the Loop 202 freeway route in the 1980s. ADOT owns 20 houses in Ahwatukee and collects about $250,000 annually in rent. There might be as many as 184 more homes in the freeway path for which there are no federal funds to purchase until the final route is determined which may not happen until late 2011 at the earliest. This timeline will be extended if ADOT enters formal negotiations with the GRIC to build the freeway on reservation land.
Once-desirable Ahwatukee neighborhoods are seeing continued erosion in the market value of their homes during this delay. Some residents feel stuck in a situation that is bound by a bad housing market and a freeway-planning process that seems endless. ADOT is certainly conscious of this unfortunate situation for area homeowners.
The planned $1.9 billion freeway project, which would extend Loop 202 west for 22 miles between Chandler and Laveen, would take out three ridges of the South Mountain Preserve, a church and several west Phoenix apartment complexes in addition to the single-family houses.
Read more at AZ Central…