Gila River Tribe Votes to Appeal Court's Decision on Freeway

Tribal officials say the project will desecrate lands held sacred by community members for centuries.

📅   Fri September 16, 2016 - West Edition #19
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The court ruled that the Arizona Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration completed all steps required to move forward on the freeway.
The court ruled that the Arizona Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration completed all steps required to move forward on the freeway.

PHOENIX (AP) The governing body of the Gila River Indian Community has voted unanimously to appeal a federal court's decision to allow construction of the proposed South Mountain Freeway adjacent to tribal lands.

Tribal officials say the project will desecrate lands held sacred by community members for centuries.

The U.S. District Court in Phoenix dismissed legal challenges on Aug. 19.

The court ruled that the Arizona Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration completed all steps required to move forward on the freeway.

ADOT officials said construction could start in September, with the 22-mi. (35 km) freeway projected to open by late 2019 and connect Interstate 10 in Chandler and Laveen.

The tribe said its legal team also will seek an injunction to stop construction while their appeal is pending.