The Ed Pastor Freeway

The Ed Pastor Freeway, an extension of Loop 202, will connect the East and West Valleys.

While one new freeway is expected to relieve traffic woes between the East and West Valleys opened Saturday, a smaller project on the Interstate 10 is ramping up - which will lead to temporary slowdowns.

“The Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway is open to traffic, providing a much-needed alternative to Interstate 10 through downtown Phoenix while improving the quality of life in a fast-growing region,” the Arizona Department of Transportation announced Saturday, Dec. 21.

 The freeway opened three days after a grand opening ceremony with Gov. Doug Ducey. 

The new Ed Pastor Freeway cost $1.7 billion.

Completing the Loop 101 and Loop 202 system, the South Mountain Freeway travels between Interstate 10 at the Loop 202 Santan Freeway in the East Valley and I-10 at 59th Avenue in the West Valley. It is projected to carry about 117,000 vehicles per day within its first year and as many as 190,000 vehicles per day by 2035.

Whether it is called the Ed Pastor Freeway, South Mountain Freeway or Loop 202, many around the West Valley were eagerly awaiting it. Comments to a West Valley View Facebook post on the new 202 showed excitement.

“As a lifelong West Valley resident, I think l will love it,” said Bonnie Mostert Lewis. “Going to Chandler, Gilbert, Tucson or any of the South or Southeast Valley locations will be much easier and faster.”

“I’m beyond excited. I live in Goodyear. And I go to the east side a few times a week. This new freeway will pretty much eliminate traffic in Phoenix area,” said Malcolm Giacco.

Meanwhile, ADOT’s Fairway Drive interchange project along Interstate 10 in Avondale “remains on schedule for completion this spring,” said Doug Nintzel, an ADOT spokesman.

 Construction of the $20.8 million project began in March. It will build on and offramps to the I-10 at Fairway Drive and an overpass. 

“Work on the outside bridge abutments and retaining walls is substantially completed,” Nintzel said. “The project team will focus on construction of bridge support columns in the median of I-10 in January. The schedule currently calls for girder installation and the start of bridge deck construction in February.”

Nintzel said he did not have specifics about traffic restrictions on I-10 at Fairway. 

But, he said, “ADOT anticipates overnight or weekend closures of I-10 in either direction will be scheduled at times in February)”.

ADOT is building the I-10/Fairway Drive interchange as part of the Maricopa Association of Governments’ Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) approved by county voters in 2004 (Prop 400). Funding sources for the RTP include a regional half-cent sales tax as well as the region’s share of federal highway funds.