The Santan Freeway is a new 3-lane portion of the Loop/State Route 202 beltway around Phoenix, AZ. The 12-mile of the Santan Freeway is the longest single stretch of freeway ever built in the Phoenix metro area.
Project Type:Widening Project Mode:Highway Average Annual Daily Traffic:144,382 Length (mi):24.80
Economic Distress:1.07 Population Density (ppl/sq mi):411 Population Growth Rate (%):3.37
Employment Growth Rate (%):3.55 Market Size:1,253,106 Airport Travel Distance:10.5167 Topography:17
Region:Southwest State:AZ County:Maricopa
City:Mesa, Gilbert, & Chandler Urban/Class Level:Metro Local Area:Mesa, Gilbert, & Chandler
Impact Area:County Transportation System:Highway GIS Lat/Long:33.291592 / -111.919664
Initial Study Date:1999 Post Constr. Study Date:2006
Constr. Start Date:1999 Constr. End Date:2006
Project Year of Expenditure (YOE): 2006 Planned Cost (YOE $):448,500,000
Actual Cost (YOE $):978,500,000 Actual Cost (curr $):1,238,850,133
NOTE: All pre/post dollar values are in 2013$
Select a region to display the conditions for that region:
NOTE: All impact dollar values are in 2013$
|Income (in $M's)||1849.00||1590.09||3439.09|
|Output (in $M's)||5136.49||4417.26||9553.75|
The Santan Freeway is a new 3-lane portion of the Loop/State Route 202 beltway around Phoenix, AZ. The $1 billion project was funded by a series of voter-approved sales taxes. Completed in June 2006, the 12-mile of the Santan Freeway is the longest single stretch of freeway ever built in the Phoenix metro area. Local and regional development agencies and developers attribute much of the growth in the East Phoenix region to the improved access and traffic capacity that the freeway network allowed. An estimated 4 million square feet of retail development, 4 million square feet of commercial development, and 4 million square feet of office are attributed to the Santan Freeway. Employment impacts are estimated at 50,000 based on the growth within several miles of the freeway.
2.1 Location & Transportation Connections
The Santan Freeway is part of a growing network of freeways in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Sixty percent of Arizona's population lives in Maricopa County. The Santan freeway traverses the southeast Phoenix/Maricopa Sun Valley municipalities of Chandler, Gilbert, and Mesa and provides access to the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport development area and large new outlying developments. Loop 202 links:
The freeway serves the large regional shopping centers and the multi-national companies concentrated in the Silicon Desert region. Along the corridor are two major colleges and three universities serving 25-30,000 students, three major shopping centers, three major automobile sales parks, three hospitals, and two airports, with close proximity to a third. Loop 202 is a major commuter link for the cities of Phoenix/Ahwatukee, Scottsdale, Tempe, and Apache Junction, the towns of Queen Creek, Maricopa, Casa Grande, Florence, and Coolidge, as well as tribal communities, providing greatly expedited access.
2.2 Community Character & Project Context
At 4.3 million people, the Phoenix region is currently the fifth largest metropolitan area in the U.S. It falls almost entirely within Maricopa County, one of the fastest growing and most rapidly urbanizing counties in the nation. Until recently, the region has grown about 45% per decade since 1960. The Eastern Valley municipalities of Chandler and Gilbert have grown the fastest since the mid 1980's, when the Santan Freeway was included on regional and statewide transportation plans. Chandler grew 100-200% nearly every decade last century. By 1980, the population was 30,000, and Chandler has since paced the Phoenix metropolitan area's high rate of growth, with vast suburban residential areas consuming agricultural land.
Some of this growth was fueled by the establishment of manufacturing plants for communications and technology companies such as Motorola, Intel, and Orbital Sciences Corporation. Gilbert's growth has primarily occurred since 1970, with growth rates in the range of 200%+ per decade. Gilbert was the fastest-growing and highest income place among all Arizona cities and towns between 1990 and 2000, the first decade that the Santan was open. Mesa, the oldest and largest in the Eastern Valley, is still approximately twice the size of Chandler and Gilbert, and is the third-largest city in Arizona. These three southeastern suburbs are more affluent than the city of Phoenix or Maricopa County. Mesa has median income levels ($42,817) closer to that of Phoenix, while Gilbert's is around $70,000 and Chandler's, as a newer, outer-ring suburb, is nearly $80,000, the highest in the state.
The "Mesa 2025" strategic plan has identified areas of focus for economic development for the next 20 years, including the 4,560 acres that comprise the Falcon Field Airport corridor (business park and industrial usage), the Town Center/Main Street corridor (light rail, other rapid transit, business development, historical, and cultural development), and the already developing Santan Freeway corridor.
The Santan Freeway/Loop 202 was first placed on a map in 1964. In the mid-1980s, when the Maricopa region was constructing its regional freeway system, the inadequacy of traditional funding sources became apparent. A review of the 1983 Freeway/Expressway Plan projected that levels of population growth would quickly overwhelm the planned additional capacity if constrained to federal interstate funds and state and city revenues. At the same time, Maricopa citizens, frustrated with growing traffic problems, were identifying transportation as the metropolitan area's major problem.
In response, Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) developed a new long range transportation plan (LRTP) with an additional 161 miles of freeway, for a total of 233 miles of new freeway, including Loop 202. Sixty percent of the funding for the Santan freeway as well as Loop 101 was provided by a 0.5% county-wide sales tax imposed to fund transportation projects, 18% came from state gas taxes, and the remaining 24% came from federal sources. The new freeway was constructed as 11 projects between 2000 and 2006. The total cost was $978,500,000, almost double the projected cost of $448,500,000.
The Santan created free-flow, freeway to freeway interchanges at I-10, the Price Freeway/Loop 101, and at U.S. 60/Superstition Freeway. The freeway runs south and turns westward in Gilbert near the airport. A few miles beyond the airport, the Santan passes through Chandler, where it intersects with Loop 101 in the vicinity of the Chandler Fashion Center. Following this interchange, the Santan Freeway section of Loop 202 terminates at a stack interchange with Interstate 10 near Ahwatukee Foothills, an affluent Phoenix neighborhood.
4.1 Transportation Impacts
Santan Freeway carries between 40,000 and 120,000 vehicles per day. The freeway and arterial improvements funded through the project form the backbone of the transportation system in the Williams Gateway development area (for the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport). The Santan provided new, direct freeway access to the rest of the regional freeway system. Furthermore, the new freeway connections shifted travel patterns toward grade-separated interchanges. Another freeway is now planned to link Loop 202 to the east through Pinal County, connecting with US-60.
The Santan Freeway provides access to two airports. After the Santan was constructed, the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway airport rose from 92nd busiest airport in 2003 to 42nd in 2006. The airport plans to expand general aviation capacity and, eventually, to introduce commercial flight service and go from serving 25,000 passengers annually to more than 2 million passengers by 2025, a goal that local development professionals say would have been impossible without the Santan Freeway. The Santan also provides access to the Chandler Airpark, built almost 50 years ago for landing crop dusters, and now considered a municipal reliever airport with about 200,000 landings and takeoffs per year.
4.2 Demographic, Economic & Land Use Impacts
When the Santan was built, the surrounding area was mainly green fields. Land use changes along the corridor have been profound, as local governments designated sites near the interchanges along the freeway for regional commercial development. By 2000, development had already hop scotched to the south, in the vicinity of the airport. Much of the southeast portion is still undeveloped, with agricultural lands already zoned or approved for subdivision. Comprehensive commercial development plans are underway.
According to the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce, Chandler, Gilbert, and Mesa have been marketing the freeway as a "job corridor." Development is occurring faster along the western portion of the freeway near Crossroads Towne Center because the area is more mature. Despite the recession of 2008-2009, development has continued, with local area economic agencies and developers commonly attributing growth to the Santan. Regional outdoor shopping malls were still opening in 2009, including San Tan Village in Gilbert at Williams Field and the Santan 202 freeway, comprised in part of a Wal-Mart based shopping center.
Other projects still underway in 2009 include the expansion of Boeing and Apache, new hotels, and office development. In 2008, more than 50 projects totaling $700 million were in the works in Gilbert along the Santan Freeway stretch of Loop 202. The East Valley Partnership noted that it takes less than ten minutes to get to developments four miles off the Santan via major arterials, facilitating the access of employees, customers, and shipping. The largest autopark in the nation is located along the Santan Freeway. East Valley Partnership reports estimates of 4 million square feet of retail development, 4 million square feet of commercial development, and 4 million square feet of office drawn to the corridor because of the Santan Freeway. Full build-out on the freeway is expected by 2030.
MAG's Transportation Director credits the freeway with making residential developments accessible and practical places to live. Midway through the Santan Freeway's construction, the southeast Valley communities of Gilbert and Chandler were the fastest-growing in the region and the nation, with Gilbert adding 1,000 residents and 300 new homes a month. Neighboring Chandler was growing by 800 to 900 new residents monthly. Metropolitan population areas (Chandler, Gila River Indian Community, Gilbert, Guadalupe, Mesa, Phoenix, Queen Creek, and Tempe) within a 5-mile buffer of the highway collectively captured 57% of the new residences between 2000 and 2007.
In the East Valley cities of Mesa, Chandler, and Gilbert, some of the growth would have happened without the Santan, but much of it was dependent on and anticipatory of the freeway. The Santan enabled the East Valley and its growing airport areas to compete for a number of projects built by national developers and companies that require direct freeway access. The Santan also enabled development of large-scale retail and entertainment complexes that could not have been contemplated without the freeway.
Over 30% of the employment in the region occurred within a 5 mile buffer of the Santan between 2000 and 2007, totaling 64,000 of the region's 2.2 million jobs. While employment in the region grew 17% (at establishments with 5 or more employees at one location), employment at large establishments within a mile of the Santan Freeway grew by 55%; within a 5-mile buffer it grew 46%. Economic development and planning professionals in the region attributed 75-100% of the growth in this buffer, to the Santan, equating to approximately 50,000 jobs.
Approximately 1.25 million people live in the East Valley. In 2003, the Phoenix Valley was receiving about 250 new residents every day, two out of five from California. Attractors include less traffic, relatively low cost-of-living, and a diversified job market that has weathered the recession fairly well.
The "sunbelt" has been attracting retirees and industry for many years, including the aeronautical industry (building on military presence) and headquarters for many national trucking companies in the Phoenix-Mesa area. Population experts estimate that 100 million people will be added to the U.S. population by 2040 and 60 million of those in 20 major "megapolitan" areas or corridors of multiple cities. At least 10 million of those are expected in the "Sun Corridor" of Phoenix, Tucson, and Mesa, Arizona's largest cities. Available land also attracts businesses to the region. With approximately 25,000 students and potential growth to 68,000 in the next 25 years, Arizona State University (ASU), Chandler Gilbert Community College (CGCC), and smaller universities in the area function as an economic engine contributing to the creation of jobs, the availability of research dollars, and the development of new technology. The universities are well-targeted to prepare students for technical careers in the area.
Mesa, Gilbert, and Chandler have made substantial investments and improvements in arterials and intersections. Such infrastructure improves help attract commercial development.
Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG)
East Valley Partnership
Town of Gilbert
Case Study Developed by ICF International