Daniel Patterson already has a post on the idea, and he thinks it stinks. Then again we expected that. The “Tucson Avoiding” portion of the bypass would in all likelyhood go through still untouched portions of the San Pedro River valley. Mess with the San Pedro, you mess with Patterson.
The Star published an op-ed by Dr. Richard Henderson, an anthropology professor at the University of Arizona, describing the negative environmental impact of such a road.
I know, you are all saying “But Ted, this is just a sliver of blacktop, big effin’ deal. It’s not like they are building houses and gold courses there.” Well, actually, this highway would facilitate more sprawl in areas that have so far been untouched by it.
There has been some fire directed as S. I. Schorr, Pima County’s Rep on the State Transportation Board who evidently originated this idea. Schorr has been close to developers for a long time, and there are allegations that he may be doing this to open up large segments of Pinal County to development. This may or may not be his actual motivation here, but the fact is there isn’t much left of Pima County to develop. With no place left to build here, it would make sense for developers to look elsewhere. In some places in Pinal County, there are already large developments that seem to have no reason for being other than the fact that they can be built. Laying down a freeway nearby would just accelerate this sort of growth.
Here is the stupid part: the reason given for the freeway is that I-10 is too congested to make it efficient for truckers. True ‘dat. Even I-10 through our sleepy Old Pueblo can turn into a parking lot when 5 PM rolls around. But, given the rate of development we’ve seen near new freeways in Maricopa county, how long will it be before there is the same problem with this bypass? Think about this for a minute: every new “planned community” built along this freeway will be populated by people who will be working not near the development, but in Tucson, Phoenix and maybe Casa Grande. What will be the best way for them to get there?
(by the way, one of the proposed “Phoenix avoiding” segments of the new freeway seems to coincide with the current Gila Bend bypass (I-8 and AZ 85). Despite the fact that there is a prison along there, there are already parts of it that have been scraped and bladed for yet more stucco and chicken wire boxes west of Phoenix)
So, developers want this so they can build more sprawl in places where there are few reasons for communities of that size to be. Which is very much the reasons that that movement on I-10 in Tucson and Phoenix is at sloth-like levels now. How many years before they demand another bypass?