By Patrick McNamara for Arizona Daily Star
A report on the possible economic impacts of a proposed connection between interstates 10 and 19 says the new highway would provide a multibillion-dollar influx into the regional economy.
The Pima County-commissioned report by Phoenix-based Applied Economics estimates a Sonoran Corridor bypass connecting the two interstates south of Tucson International Airport would eventually create a $32.2B annual impact to the regional economy.
That assessment comes at a time when Pima County voters have begun to receive election ballots, which include a proposition to put $30M into construction of the Sonoran Corridor project.
County leaders have proposed construction of a 26-mile connection between I-10 and I-19 as a bypass primarily for northbound I-19 and westbound I-10 drivers, especially commercial vehicles.
The Sonoran Corridor would run roughly from Rita Road on the southeast side to about Pima Mine Road south of Tucson through areas with little existing development.
Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said bond funding would make up only a small fraction of the total cost of the corridor, which is estimated at more than $600M.
Recently, Arizona’s entire congressional delegation got behind a measure that helped get the proposed interstate connection listed among Federal Highway Administration planning documents. The listing makes the project eligible for federal funding.
The county’s analysis says the possible business expansion associated with the Sonoran Corridor project among three main employment segments would directly and indirectly support as many as 189,000 jobs.
As many as 104,000 people could work directly for tenant companies in the bypass corridor at build-out. Those workers would earn an estimated $5.2B, or $50K per worker, annually.
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