Ninth Circuit ruling means South Mountain Freeway will continue
Direct link between East Valley and West Valley scheduled to open in 2019
PHOENIX – The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has denied a request by Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway opponents for an emergency injunction pending appeal, a ruling that keeps the Arizona Department of Transportation project on track to begin construction of the mainline freeway early next year.
It’s the fourth time courts have rejected attempts to halt construction of this long-planned link between the East Valley and West Valley.
“With the support of the Federal Highway Administration, the Maricopa Association of Governments and the city of Phoenix, we are moving forward with a critically needed freeway that will make this region a better place to live and do business,” ADOT Director John Halikowski said. “This long-planned alternative to an increasingly strained Interstate 10 through downtown Phoenix will better position this region for continued growth in its population and its economy.”
The order, released Monday, means that construction can proceed while the opponents’ appeal is pending before the 9th Circuit in San Francisco.
In October, the U.S. District Court in Phoenix denied the plaintiffs’ motion for an injunction, saying, in part, that they are unlikely to prevail on appeal. That followed the court’s August ruling granting the motions for summary judgment by the Federal Highway Administration and ADOT, concluding that the agencies complied with federal law in moving forward with the project.
In July 2015, the court rejected a motion for a preliminary injunction that would have halted all work leading up to the start of construction.
The 22-mile South Mountain Freeway, approved by Maricopa County voters in 1985 and again in 2004 as part of a comprehensive regional transportation plan, will complete the Loop 202 and Loop 101 freeway system in the Valley by connecting Interstate 10 at the Loop 202 (Santan Freeway) interchange and the I-10 Papago Freeway near 59th Avenue.
Construction began in September with improvements to the I-10/Loop 202 (Santan Freeway) interchange that include extending Loop 202 HOV lanes and widening the shoulders to Pecos Road near 48th Street. Construction of the mainline freeway is scheduled to begin in early 2017.
For more information, visit SouthMountainFreeway.com.