Tubac is in the narrowest part of the Santa Cruz River Valley and putting the proposed Interstate 11 corridor on the east side of the railroad tracks there would destroy the small communities of Tubac and Tumacacori.
Those were the concerns expressed by local residents Susan Maurer and Patricia Thompson when the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) held a “scoping” meeting for the I-11 project Tuesday evening at Nogales High School.
“There’s not a lot of wiggle room for expansion there because we have the railroad track with the river and we have housing and we have the I-19 highway,” Thompson said. “So there isn’t much room.”
Planned as more than a highway, I-11 is envisioned as a multimodal corridor connecting Arizona with regional and international markets while opening up new opportunities for mobility, trade, job growth and economic competitiveness, an ADOT press release says.
The recommended I-11 corridor would likely follow US 93 from the Hoover Dam bypass bridge in the northwest corner of the state south to Wickenburg. The 280-mile corridor that is the focus of the current environmental study begins in Wickenburg and runs west of the Phoenix metropolitan area and then south to the Tucson area and on to Nogales.
“If you look at the state of Arizona, I-10 is an East-West route; it does happen to go north and south between Tucson and Phoenix, but there is really no continuous north-south interstate in Arizona,” project manager Jay Van Echo said.
The project is in the second part of the eight-part process. ADOT published its notice of intent in the Federal Register on May 20 and is now in its 45-day scoping period, which ends July 8. The scoping period is meant to inform the public of the environmental consequences of major projects before decisions are made and actions are undertaken, and to gather feedback from the public. Six public meetings were planned as part of the process, including the one Tuesday in Nogales.
Although there was no question-and-answer period after the presentation at NHS, Van Echo encouraged attendees to visit the map stations and mark any concerns or areas that should be avoided within the corridor study area.
“In terms of alternatives, everything, right now at this stage of the game, is open for discussion, including looking at using existing facilities potentially part of US 189, I-19, I-10,” Van Echo said. “So, using part of the existing facilities certainly can be alternatives for this project as we move from Nogales to Wickenburg, Ariz.”
Anyone interested in commenting on the study can go to i11study.com/Arizona and complete the online survey.