By BrieAnna J. Frank for The Arizona Republic
A federal judge dismissed legal challenges to construction of the South Mountain Freeway in a decision released Aug. 26.
The Gila River Indian Community and a coalition of environmental and community groups filed lawsuits in hopes of blocking the planned Loop 202 expansion to connect Interstate 10 from Phoenix to Chandler through part of the South Mountain Preserve. They argued the Arizona Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration did not comply with federal laws in planning the freeway.
U.S. District Court Judge Diane Humetewa said in her decision that the opposing groups did not prove that the approval of the roughly 22-mile freeway project violated the National Environmental Policy Act and Department of Transportation Act.
But plaintiff groups, including Protecting Arizona’s Resources and Children, will appeal the ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, they said in a news release. They will file an injunction to stop ADOT’s construction on the freeway until that court rules on the case, according to the release.
Some state and city officials applauded the decision they said allows the transportation corridor project to move forward. The corridor’s $916M design and construction contract makes it Arizona’s largest highway project, according to ADOT.
Construction will first start at the traffic interchange at I-10 and Loop 202, according to ADOT. The agency expects to open the freeway in late 2019.
Read more at The Arizona Republic