Make Arizona road P3: Kiewit

A consortium has proposed using a P3 to build a divisive beltway in Phoenix.

US ‘Sunbelt’ state Arizona should consider a public-private partnership (PPP; P3) for a controversial ring road project in Phoenix, its largest city, a consortium has suggested.

‘South Mountain Development Group’ (SMDG) has put forward an unsolicited proposal to use a P3 to deliver the third part of State Route 202 (SR 202 or ‘Loop 202’), a beltway encircling state capital Phoenix, the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) revealed.

If approved, the P3 for the envisioned ‘South Mountain Freeway’ part of Loop 202, would not result in a toll road concession, the Department insisted. ADOT is required under state law to review the proposal, according to its website.

SMDG is comprised of equity investor Kiewit Development Company, Kiewit Infrastructure West Company, contractor Sundt Construction and engineering firm Parsons Corporation.

Tom Janssen, a spokesman with Kiewit Corporation in Omaha, Nebraska, declined comment.

The Freeway is a 21-mile bypass around downtown Phoenix. The first segment of Loop 202, ‘Red Mountain Freeway,’ was opened in 2008. Completed in 2006, ‘Santan Freeway,’ is the second part of the beltway.

The would-be South Mountain Freeway has encountered opposition in Ahwatukee, a nearby Phoenix suburb subject to ‘eminent domain,’ or compulsory purchase by the state, as well as from the Gila River Indian Community (GRIC).

Both Ahwatukee and GRIC, an Indiana reservation, could lose private property to the project.

South Mountain Development Group has said a P3 could complete the project at a lower cost. The proposal is the first unsolicited P3 proposal ADOT has ever received. The cost of the project, with environmental review pending, could not be determined.

Arizona in 2009 adopted enabling P3 legislation for transportation infrastructure. ADOT also has a P3 office, led by Gail Lewis.