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Judge refuses to block planned South Mountain Freeway

The heated debate over the proposed Loop 202 freeway along the southern border of Ahwatukee gets the go-ahead by a judge.

The judge refused to block the freeway that would extend the Loop 202 by 22 miles, and connected I-10 in the west.

Dozens of the homes near Liberty Lane are now owned by ADOT; they will soon face demolition as they make way for the proposed project. The judge's ruling to not block the plan puts ADOT one step closer to starting the project.

It's moving day for Shandra Daniels as her things are boxed up and ready to be loaded on the moving truck. Her house in the foothills community in Ahwatukee is now owned by ADOT, and will be one of many demolished to make way for the freeway.

"We were actually excited to just move on with our lives because we couldn't do anything. We bought this house as a foreclosure, we didn't want to do anything to the back yard because we didn't want to spend the money knowing that this was going to happen," said Shandra Daniels.

Daniels says she knew this day was coming since she bought her home five years ago. Other neighbors have homes also owned by ADOT and share the same feelings.

"They basically condemned the neighborhood about 8 years ago when the plan came out and then after that you couldn't do anything with the homes, and then the crash started and it got really bad," said Reese Shirley.

Dozens of other homes now remain vacant. The home of Dr. Pat Lawlis near Pecos and Desert Foothills Parkway won't be torn down because she says the project will ruin what they call the world's largest cul-de-sac.

"It would obviously effect me very directly for that matter, where we would be getting a whole lot more traffic and noise and pollution," said Dr. Paw Lawlis.

Lawlis is a member of a coalition wanting the judge to block the expansion. The judge denied the request, claiming it did not show the freeway would cause imminent and irreparable environmental harm.

Lawlis disagrees.

"It would cut through three ridges of the mountain and completely destroy the ecology of that area and affect all the areas surrounding in South Mountain," said Lawlis.

ADOT released a statement saying the ruling allows them to keep the project on schedule, and continue with the many steps of the pre-construction process that needs to be completed prior to construction.

The judge is now considering to join two lawsuits filed against the project. A ruling on those lawsuits is expected early in 2016. ADOT is expected to start construction in May.