I can’t believe that Tucson Local Media’s papers ignored the Arizona Department of Transportation’s public meetings on their “alternative routes” for an Interstate 11 highway from Wickenburg to Nogales. Meetings May 2 and 3 in Tucson and Marana brought out over 400 people who were mostly opposed to any route through the Avra Valley. 

As they were in the first round of public meetings during this 3-year, $15-million, Tier 1 Environmental Impact Study -- although you’d never know that from ADOT’s handouts and would have to read the many hundreds of comments posted online.

Reasons to oppose I-11 through the Avra Valley include policy adopted by the Pima County Board of Supervisors in Resolution 2007-343, the 2/3 higher cost of a new highway versus double-decking just six miles of I-10 that would save nearly $2 billion (ADOT’s numbers), the noise and air pollution and hazardous cargo that would be imposed on the thousands of families who live there, the threats to wildlife and archaeological treasures, the loss of jobs along the I-10 corridor, the impact on tourism in the valley -- and all for ADOT’s stated goals of attracting U.S. companies from China to Mexico (they call it “nearshoring”), and “integrated manufacturing”—R&D here, manufacture and assembly across the border.

Public comment is open until June 2. While actual construction may be years off, decisions made in the next two years will determine the fate of the Avra Valley for all times. Visit the ADOT website, for how to comment.

— Albert Lannon

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