Possibility of Avra Valley Interstate Highway Raising Concerns
Posted on October 17, 2013 at 3:01 p.m.
Cronkite News Service
Robin Clark says the clean air, dark skies, and abundant wildlife of the Avra Valley make the area northwest of Tucson a special place to live.
“It’s one of the last places you can go in Tucson to see what the desert was like,” she said.
These concerns last week drew Clark to an Arizona Department of Transportation hearing on Interstate 11, a proposed Las Vegas trade and trade route through northern Arizona and the Phoenix area to ‘at a border crossing with Mexico.
Although the route has not been established, a Pima County study that suggested in July to bypass Tucson via the Avra Valley prompted Clark to start an online petition against the idea. The petition has now been signed by nearly 700 people.
Russell Lowes, president of energy for the Sierra Club Rincon Group, said the establishment of an I-11 bypass west of the Tucson Mountains would result in urban sprawl next to Saguaro National Park.
“It would create new areas of population, destroying wild areas that do not need to be developed at this stage,” he said.
Lowes and Clark have said they are not opposed to the I-11 goals, but argue they can be achieved by expanding I-10 and I-19 through Tucson.
Clark said in addition to creating air, light and noise pollution in his neighborhood, a freeway crossing the Avra Valley would ruin the view from the nearby Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.
“I don’t think residents and visitors would be too happy if they knew that if they stood at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and looked west, instead of seeing the beautiful and open Avra Valley. , they saw an interstate highway in sight, ”she said.
By studying wide corridors as wide as 50 miles, ADOT did not identify specific roads for any part of the project, but eliminated the corridors near Yuma and Douglas. The current study is expected to be completed next year.
The feasibility of specific routes, including those in the Tucson area, will be determined by studies that have yet to be commissioned, ADOT spokeswoman Laura Douglas said.
“We will become more specific as we go along,” she said. “What we hope to have at the end of this study are recommended alternatives, which are still options at this stage. We will not have a specific line drawn on a map at the end of this study.
In July, a Pima County Department of Transportation study suggested a route through the Avra Valley and a connection to I-19 south of Tucson. In a letter outlining the proposal, Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry highlighted regional planning by the Association of Pima Governments, saying congestion on I-10 and I-19 would be classified as “severe ”Or“ extremely serious ”by 2040.
Joe Snell, president and CEO of Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities Inc., or TREO, called the increase in freeway capacity from Phoenix to Nogales critical to the region’s economy.
“This highway will transport goods and services from Mexico,” Snell said. “It allows Tucson to really play the role of an intermodal facility, to move more of that cargo, whether it’s by rail, truck, or air freight to different locations in the United States.”
Snell said products from Mexico will arrive in the United States via California or Texas if capacity is not increased here.
“Companies doing business in China and India are bringing manufacturing much closer to the United States,” he said. “This is the new economic reality.
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