URBAN DISASTER ALERT: Yet again, another ‘trainwreck-in-the-making’, piece of planning pathology—inflicted upon Tucson’s suffering Metro (1.1M population).
And brought to you by the same smug, self-entitled, ‘High-IQ Stupid People’ (HISP) who stopped Tucson’s [one & only] cross-town freeway proposal, back in the 1980s.
I lay this current transportation crisis (among others) squarely at the feet of Tucson’s incredible leadership vacuum. Since the Cold War’s end, they have consistently failed to forge any kind of broad, effective, non-Woke, non-academic consensus. One based upon the reality of what is happening in the world, around the city, and in the greater southwestern context. These people live in their own luxurious, schitzo-world, and psychologically, are triggered by the prosperity of others.
Yet, reasons for my contention about Oracle Road are very straight-forward and easy to see.
Pinal County growth is booming; they have pieced together a dynamic strategy of land acquisition and infrastructure development (hi-cap broadband, electricity & natural gas from New Mexico, etc.) …enabling them to craft major techno-industrial developments, and well-planned, sustainable large scale housing. It’s a remarkable combination.
Unlike the politically-correct twits in Tucson, Pinal County has planned for major transportation arterials that would complement all this, cementing their location as the desired spot for the unfolding “Nearshoring Boom”. That boom is the direct result of America’s longer-term “pivot to Asia”, sans China. Mexico is a key component of this plan.
On Mexico’s Pacific side, the northern ports of Guaymas, Libertad, and Topolobampo are the closest, non-Texan, non-California ports to America’s great western expanse, which avoids using the vulnerable Panama Canal. This has not gone unnoticed by the shippers, especially railroads, see my previous piece.
The new governor of Sonora has made a priority of re-routing the FerroMex rail line away from downtown Nogales, towards that city’s east side to better link up with the Union Pacific line going north into Tucson. FerroMex, which connects to Sonora’s capital and #1 industrial city, also connects further south to the state’s #1 port, Guaymas, and is 25% owned by Union Pacific RR which runs East-West thru Tucson.
The Canadians are already exploiting shipments from the 3 countries by consolidating ownership in Kansas City Southern RR along Mexico’s Caribbean coast & interior, via KCRR’s purchase by Canadian Pacific RR in early March, this year. Now it’s Mexico’s Pacific coastline that’s up for grabs. Especially after the disastrous US west coast port congestion suffered during 2019-2022.
Another major indication is consolidation in the long-haul trucking biz. The Phoenix-based trucking giant, Knight-Swift, just announced a doubling of its size & reach with a buyout of fellow trucking giant, U.S. Xpress. Last year Union Pacific Intermodal announced their intention to put dozens of self-driving 18-wheelers on I-10 through Tucson every 24 hours. The handwriting on all this is pretty plain to see.
PimaCo’s notoriously incompetent RTA, the Regional Transportation Authority’s answer to all these developments, re: I-10—just add more lanes. Gimmeabreak! (systems thinking is not in their vocabulary)
Planners in Pinal County and other biz interests there understand what’s unfolding. It’s why Pinal County, after years of being asleep has suddenly come to life. New water scarcities for agriculture has also prompted this [inevitable] conclusion. It has allowed vast tracts of flat, accessible farmland to become available for factories & subdivisions.
If Tucson and Pima County interests do not approve and build—both the Sonoran Corridor and the I-11 bypasses, traffic along Arizona state route #77, i.e. Oracle Road, through Catalina, Oro Valley, and Casas Adobes will become untenable. People will use Oracle Road to go to Pinal County (for family-wage jobs unavailable in Tucson), via highways #77 and #79, as well as to Phoenix’s booming Southeast side, i.e. Intel, the new Mesa-Gateway Airport, Chandler, Queen Creek/San Tan Valley, et al. [Just now, the Korean electronics giant LG, announced a $5.5 billion battery plant for southeast of Queen Creek.]
Oracle Road will, by default, become only the SECOND WAY into Pinal & Southeast Phoenix, other than an increasingly congested & dangerous I-10.
Currently, the HISP ‘great cognoscenti’ of Tucson want to stop any future highway bypasses by declaring a [yet another] “desert existential apocalypse” for what amounts to a 150 ft. right-of-way. Why anyone, having traveled anywhere outside Tucson, and seen what these blinkered fools have already given the suffering population of Metro Tucson, would trust their ‘vision’ …is beside me.
Link to Sonoran Corridor & Interstate 11 bypass maps: https://webcms.pima.gov/cms/One.aspx?pageId=227411
Sellers is a Southpark Republican living in incorporated Oro Valley; his background is federal technology commercialization