Gov. Doug Ducey, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell and a host of other elected officials and dignitaries gathered gathered to celebrate the completion of the final stretch of the Loop 202 freeway, which is slated to open sometime by the end of the year.
The 22-mile South Mountain Freeway runs from Ahwaukee and the Gila River Indian Community to the West Valley, where it connects to Interstate 10 near 59th Avenue.
At a ceremony on the southbound side of the Loop 202 extension near the Southern Avenue exit, Ducey heralded the new freeway as “a big step forward in connecting the East Valley with the West Valley, and an alternative to the I-10 and the Broadway loop through downtown Phoenix.”
Ducey touted that fact that Arizona attracts more migration from within the U.S. than any other state, and that Phoenix and Maricopa County are the country’s fastest growing city and county.
“In the game of states, people vote with their feet, and Arizona is winning,” he said. “As many more people choose Arizona, we’re making sure our infrastructure remains some of the best in America.”
According to the Department of Transportation, the due date for the freeway’s opening is Dec. 31, but officials hope to have it opened before then. The department still has some streetwork, landscaping, a final inspection and other work left to do before the road opens to the public.
The governor noted that the extension is the largest highway project in Arizona history. Construction began in late 2016, and the total project cost about $1.6 billion. Planning for the freeway began in 1983.
Ducey praised the public-private partnership that helped bring the freeway extension to fruition, saying it would save taxpayers more than $100 million. Connect 202 Enterprises, a partnership between Fluor, Ames Construction and Granite Construction, with WSP USA serving as the designer, has a 30-year contract that combines design, construction and maintenance responsibilities.
The freeway has received an honorary designation as the Congressman Ed Pastor Freeway. Pastor, who represented the area from 1991 to 2014, was known throughout his career as an advocate for transportation and other infrastructure funding.
“Ed Pastor was someone who worked every day to bring people together, and he was a champion of improving critical infrastructure across our nation,” Ducey said.