***This article was originally written in January of 2012. It it now being republished on the blog to bring attention to current issues of conversation around reasons for resisting expansion of the loop 202.***
Since it’s early 80’s induction the South Mountain Freeway Loop 202 has always been proposed as a connecter for the I-10 in the southeast valley with the West Valley. When we look at the purpose of I-10 we see a trail of trade sprawling North from Mexico City, Mexico to Edmonton, Canada. Officially known as the CANAMEX Corridor-part of a larger system of roads referred to as “The Corridors of the Future”. The Corridors of the Future are the roadways that/will facilitate the movement of goods for Trade agreements such as The Central America’s Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
NAFTA, passed in 1994, lowered trade regulations to “boost” the shipment of goods from South to North America. Soon After the passing of NAFTA a lack of funding put Loop 202 on hold. Then the National Highway Systems Designation Act of 1995 defined and designated the CANAMEX Corridor (see image above) as a “high-priority”. This brings us to the 1996 authorization of the “Borderlands Study” (an internal GRIC study). In 1998 we see the results of the Borderlands study used to develop the “GRIC alignment. In the time span of four years we see a clear and organized use of international law to push for increased colonization of indigenous people and their land followed by the infrastructure to sell it quicker.
What is the Sun Corridor?
The corridor that Loop 202 is a part of is also factored into a smaller corridor called “the Sun Corridor”. The Sun Corridor is based on the idea that in the near future many parts of North America will form “Mega-regions” which are expected to include a conglomerate of multiple cities interlocking economic, ecological, and transportation systems with shared natural resources and interests. For instances: rapidly urbanizing the area between Casa Grande and Phoenix to eventually become one in the same.
Unless we pull our communities together, firmly say no and begin to organize against the Loop 202, before our eyes we will see these “Mega-regions” come true.
Currently NAFTA and the CANAMEX Corridor facilitate the shipments of goods made in maquiladoras, (a manufacturing plant generally in Central to South America that imports materials to be assembled under lower health and environmental standards at a cheaper price to be exported elsewhere for sale), as well as materials violently extracted from stolen Indigenous lands in “South America” through the ever more increasingly militarized land of the Tohono O’odham and up the I-10. If ADOT has their way these “goods will literally be profit driven through South Mountain up to Canada.
On the Environmental Impact Statement
Why hasn’t their been an extensive Environmental Impact Statement Report produced by ADOT? Better yet why has ADOT insisted on pressuring the Gila River Indian Community to “accept” a route prior to the EIS being completed? What facts would surface pertaining to how such a freeway would impact the communities along the proposed route?
The fact of the matter is if you go to the official ADOT South Mountain Freeway page you will see that EISR has been the “next step” in the process-for years. It is not coincidence yet rather convenience that ADOT is attempting to and successfully “side stepping” the release of such a report. Upon completion, would the report be upfront about the ever-lasting compromises air quality within the southwest valley it would bring. According to the 43rd Avenue air monitor this area has registered the highest particulate matter readings).
Is there any way to truly measure the impacts that an approximately 40 stories high and 200 yards wide blast into a mountain will have on the community, culture and natural environment?
When asked about environmental impacts in meetings members of MAG have been noted to say that the area on South Mountain that would be affected is to small for any large animals to actively habitat. While research has repeatedly shown that numerous animal species thrive off of this area. Contrary to what many MAG members believe the Mexican Spotted Owl, Mountain lions and more than 30 different fish species call South Mountain their home.
If research were to be done for an EISR it is important to consider who would be the doing so. In the case of Loop 202 it is the International engineering firm HDR. HDR has a large role within the South Mountain study team. HDR is the main firm that deals with many of ADOT’s EISR’s. They are also usually paid to design most infrastructure systems within Phoenix. Basically HDR is completing an amazing no interference-balancing act of next-to-no-one checking their work.
What else does HDR do around the world?
The company’s roots are buried deep within the military complex. Since the 1930s’ Company founder H.H. Henningson has been filling contracts with the US Army, Air Force and Navy. HDR has such a close connection with the US military that they have been awarded contracts to design air bases in even Newfoundland and Greenland.
Now HDR holds the power of deciding what environmental devastation plays out in the development of Loop 202. Does this sound like a company you would entrust your sacred place too?