South Mountain Freeway Supporter

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A supporter of the South Mountain Loop 202 freeway in Phoenix will discuss why the freeway is a good idea. David Martin, president of the Arizona Chapter of Associated General Contractors of America, will talk about the issue.

TED SIMONS: Last week, we heard from an opponent of the South Mountain Freeway in Phoenix. Tonight, we hear from a supporter of the proposed freeway. David Martin is president of the Arizona chapter of Associated General Contractors of America. Good to see you, thanks for joining us.

DAVID MARTIN: Thank you very much for having us. We appreciate it.

TED SIMONS: You bet. We wanted to get the other side here now, but let's get going. Why is this freeway good for the region?

DAVID MARTIN: First and foremost, to give a little history lesson here and talk about exactly what the South Mountain has gone through. 1985, the voters voted in the affirmative to put a freeway plan together that included the South Mountain. A. B., in 2004, once again, under prop 400, the voters again approved the transportation plan which included the South Mountain. I did a little bit of research on that vote and want to let you know that we carried every single precinct in Ahwatukee. Furthermore, we went a little bit further since we were advocating for the 202 during the AIS process, we did some additional polling. So we asked voters specifically about the South Mountain, Maricopa voters, okay, specifically about the South Mountain and 64% of the voters in Maricopa County supported the South Mountain. So I need to keep going because this is really important, you keep drilling down on the issue of Laveen and Ahwatukee what do you think about the South Mountain? We got a 59% approval rating and let's drill down even further to Ahwatukee and they were still over 50% of the voters supporting the South Mountain.

TED SIMONS: So we've got people supporting the South Mountain freeway. But again, why is it good for the region? Do they know what they're supporting?

DAVID MARTIN: Well, of course, they know what they're supporting. They knew they were putting together a plan that would connect the west valley with the east valley, they knew that. The campaign literature was clear we were delivering a comprehensive transportation plan which included freeways and light rail and arterial streets in prop 400.

TED SIMONS: I know those who are for the freeway say it's a good way to get that through traffic around the central corridor area and allow for trucks and for people on their way to L.A. or out of L.A. to by-pass much of central Phoenix. Critics we had them on last week say the study show it's not going to ease congestion.

DAVID MARTIN: Well, I think -- I think Mr. Brittle talked about the issue of cooking the books and I would say he's cooking the books. He mentioned the issues of two minutes. What he didn't mention was the fact that that same study said it could shave two minutes off the commute to 25 minutes off the commute. So pulling slivers of the information is a little bit disingenuous. With that said, he also didn't tell you that we're not talking about one car. We're talking about 117,000 cars daily, minimum, 190,000 cars maximum, so I'm giving you a range, two minutes to 25 minutes, 117,000 vehicles, 190,000 vehicles.

TED SIMONS: You're saying less congestion.

DAVID MARTIN: I'm saying less congestion absolutely.

TED SIMONS: He's saying some of the worst air already in the United States is in that area and their health experts say the freeway will cause for even worse pollution.

DAVID MARTIN: Absolutely 100% false. And let me explain why. The national air quality standards which Maricopa association of governments handles, doing the air quality plan, and carbon monoxide right now, the limit for carbon monoxide is nine parts per million, okay. Right now, we are doing a phenomenal job on controlling our air quality. We are 67% below the national standard of nine parts per million. It's just nonsense. It doesn't add up.

TED SIMONS: He says, though, that they have health experts and they're saying that the increased pollution or the pollution as it is that will not get any better because of the freeway going through the area will cause for kids on both sides of the mountain, stunted lungs, premature death in older folks and every time they bring this stuff up with they say, you know, valued health experts, there's never a response.

DAVID MARTIN: Well, I'll give you the response and I'll tell you that we are under scrutiny by the Environmental Protection Agency, we are required to hand in state implementation plans. It just doesn't add up. The actual organization, the EPA that dictates whether or not we're in conformity or not has said we're in conformity.

TED SIMONS: Was the EPA using recent numbers? Critics are saying 2005 data, especially census data, was used as opposed to more recent 2010 data.

DAVID MARTIN: Well, I think the data in the Maricopa County proves that we are in great shape from an air quality perspective. We have 22 monitors that are cast throughout the valley. Many of them are adjacent to freeways and like I said on a carbon monoxide front, we're 67% below the health standard. That's pretty good and that's evidence, that's not conjecture that's not hyperbole.

TED SIMONS: The Gila river Indian community they have filed suit now says the state and the feds did not adequately consider the impact to the tribes. How do you respond to that?

DAVID MARTIN: Well, what I would say is I have a great deal of faith in the professionalism of the Arizona Department of Transportation and the Maricopa association of governments and FHWA. I can't address that, that's water under the bridge as far as the record of decision is concerned. That now is in the courts. And they're going to have to determine that and we would welcome a solution to that issue.

TED SIMONS: I think everything we've talked about again, you talked about cooking the books and that phrase was used by critics of the freeway. They say go back to the drawing board, it wasn't an honest process, a bunch of folks who wanted a freeway making sure that the numbers and the data even if you had to go to old data proved that you needed the freeway. Again how do you respond?

DAVID MARTIN: Well, I respond by 30 years of voter approval. That's how I respond. It wasn't knee-jerk, it was created in 1985, it was affirmed in 2004, it was passed by the voters in Ahwatukee, they didn't do anything that any responsible planning organization wouldn't do.

TED SIMONS: So they're wrong when they say the freeway was always wanted and thus the process justified the freeway?

DAVID MARTIN: The voters wanted it. It's really important to clarify. The voters wanted it.

TED SIMONS: As far as options and alternatives, I keep hearing more buses, I keep hearing more transit. I'm hearing a different route even for the freeway. Are those viable alternatives?

DAVID MARTIN: Well, what's great about our transportation system is it's layered. The state responsible for certain things, you have regional, Maricopa association involved in certain things and you have the city involved in sort of the more localized programs. So the voters, August 25th, will have an opportunity to help facilitate that additional congestion by voting yes on proposition 104 in Phoenix which brings additional light rail, additional buses, additional service to Ahwatukee and all the rest of the valley.

TED SIMONS: But for those who say that kind of system could also work in terms of relieving congestion, I-10 congestion, you say...

DAVID MARTIN: I say, the fact of the matter is we have a reasonable transportation plan, the South Mountain was a vital component of that makes the system worked.

TED SIMONS: Whatever happened to the superfreeway idea, where the regional traffic around the Broadway curve, like 9 or 12 or 15, who knows how many lanes, what happened to that idea?

DAVID MARTIN: They're doing studies and still investigating that as a responsibility. But it's not an either or issue, as far as I'm concerned. It's both. Both need to be done. South Mountain and the widening.

TED SIMONS: And as far as the tribe again, the tribe's concerns, are you saying these were already addressed by others? I think a lot of people are concerned that they say the South Mountain is sacred to the tribe and they don't like the idea of dynamite and bulldozing.

DAVID MARTIN: The process to get to a record of decision is very, very rigorous, okay. The Department of Transportation was extremely liberal in their outreach, okay. They had one meeting where they actually bussed people to the meeting, they had six more meetings prior to that, regional meetings where they received input. Over 8,000 folks responded. 78% of the folks that responded in the affirmative.

TED SIMONS: All right. We'll stop you right there. Thanks for joining us. And that is it for now. I'm Ted Simons, thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.

David Martin : President of the Arizona Chapter of Associated General Contractors of America

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