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  • Pima County supports study of interstate highway link

    Jul 03, 2013 | Read More News
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    Interstate 11 MapPima County has urged the area’s regional planning body to consider a transportation corridor west of the Tucson Mountains as one component of a long-range plan for addressing transportation needs in the state.

    The Arizona Department of Transportation is studying a potential Interstate 10 bypass corridor that would link the Phoenix area with Las Vegas.

    Although there are opportunities for future extensions of that route into Southern Arizona, this is just the starting point of a long-range planning process. Funding sources have yet to be identified, but will require federal, state and local resources, with the lion’s share coming from federal and state sources. Pima County is well-positioned to assist with those complex planning efforts.

    “It is important to actively pursue transportation improvements that will increase capacity and mobility through central Pima County in order to solidify the region’s position as a logistics hub for international trade,” said Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry. “It makes no sense for this route to stop at the Gila River if we’re serious about building a corridor to stimulate this area’s economic development potential.”

    Huckelberry encouraged the Pima Association of Governments to consider, as part of a future Interstate 11 master plan, a southern segment that would bypass Interstate 10 by looping behind the Tucson Mountains. It would ultimately connect to Interstate 19.

    Ideally, that route would join with another bypass route that Pima County is already working toward. Known as the Sonoran Parkway, the bypass route would link Interstates 10 and 19. That would steer through-traffic away from the heart of the city, while bolstering connections for key light industry clusters and improving the existing trade flow through the region.

    The potential Interstate 11 route as initially proposed by Pima County is a significant departure from an earlier alignment that raised concerns in 2007 about substantial environmental impacts through the Avra Valley area.

    The new proposed route avoids populated areas while also steering clear of Ironwood National Forest, Saguaro National Park and other environmentally-sensitive lands. The new route also will require significant environmental mitigation efforts, including the set-aside of nearly 5,000 acres of land to mitigate for habitat losses as required by the County’s adopted Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan.