Avra Valley Coalition Opposes Trojan Horse I-11

Avra Valley Coalition opposes the I-11 route through the Avra Valley

The Arizona Dept. of Transportation is meeting in Tucson on Thursday, February 18 on their long-range transportation plan, which includes Interstate11.  The meeting is at the Pima Association of Governments, One East Broadway (just off Stone), Room 401, 1 to 3 p.m. This is one of eight meetings throughout the state to gather public input.

Comments can also be made online at http://azdot.gov/whatmovesyouarizona/comments.

The Avra Valley Coalition opposes the I-11 route through the Avra Valley proposed by Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry for the following reasons:

1) I-11 in Southern Arizona is about exporting American jobs.  ADOT’s Corridor Justification Report sees “nearshoring” and “integrative manufacturing” as the future.  Nearshoring is attracting US companies from China to Mexico, where wages are expected to be even lower.  Integrative manufacturing means research and development in Arizona and Nevada, manufacture and assembly in Mexico.  The report also projects stealing good US jobs from the West Coast by attracting container cargo to the Mexican Port of Guaymas, being expanded with Chinese funding.  Jobs along the existing I-10 corridor would be lost.

2) An Avra Valley I-11 route is too expensive, too disruptive, and has some major problems.  While the cost-per-mile of double-decking six miles of I-10 is higher than building a new highway, double-decking I-10 from Ruthrauff to I-19, would cost one-third the cost of a new 56-mile Avra Valley highway and save nearly $2 billion.  Those are ADOT’s own numbers provided by ADOT State Engineer Jennifer Toth and confirmed by ADOT’s John McNamara.  Toth also said double-decking would do everything they wanted for the next 30 years.

An Avra Valley I-11 highway would seriously disrupt the communities, wildlife and archaeological riches of the valley.  It would bring traffic fumes-caused illness, disrupt Kitt Peak’s light, degrade Saguaro National Park and the Desert Museum, and bring 24/7 noise to a valley where people have lived peacefully for thousands of years.  It would, however, enrich real estate speculators like Wil Cardon who owns some 1500 acres along the Huckelberry Highway route according to County Assessor records.

I-11 needs an 800 to 2,000 foot right-of-way (ROW) according to ADOT.  At Sandario and Mile Wide Roads there is only 80 feet ROW, with the Tohono O’odham Nation on one side and the US Bureau of Reclamation’s Wildlife Mitigation Corridor (set up when the CAP canal was built) on the other.  Huckelberry proposes using Sandario as the base for an elevated highway to get around this bottleneck.

3)  The Sonoran Corridor is a Trojan Horse.  The Sonoran Corridor, rejected by voters in November’s bond election, would link I-10 and I-19 west of I-19, serving Raytheon, the airport, and the UA Tech Park.  If it were a straight line, it might make some sense.  But it drops south alongside an unbuilt 3000-acre Diamond Ventures Swan Southlands development and then west to duplicate an already-planned El Toro Corridor and link up with the Avra Valley route at I-19 — making the Huckelberry Highway the logical choice with a connection already in place.  (Interesting that Diamond and his company president served on Cardon’s campaign committee in his failed bid to be the Republican Secretary of State candidate.)  Even though the Sonoran Corridor was turned town by the voters, Supervisor Sharon Bronson and Huckelberry are trying to revive it.

ADOT is keeping quiet about its $15 million three-year Tier One Environmental Impact Study approved by the State Transportation Board over a year ago.

While such a highway may be years in the future and there is not funding for it at this moment, both I-11 and the Sonoran Corridor were approved in a bipartisan Congressional vote as part of a recent transportation bill and signed immediately into law, making them both “high priority” projects.  The Fat Cats and their political minions want it badly, and sooner rather than later, no matter what the voters said.  I-11 and the Sonoran Corridor are local examples of why so many people are disillusioned with the political process and are turning to “outsider” candidates.

About Albert Vetere Lannon 107 Articles
Albert grew up in the slums of New York, and moved to San Francisco when he was 21. He became a union official and labor educator after obtaining his high school GED in 1989 and earning three degrees at San Francisco State University – BA, Labor Studies; BA, Interdisciplinary Creative Arts; MA, History. He has published two books of history, Second String Red, a scholarly biography of my communist father (Lexington, 1999), and Fight or Be Slaves, a history of the Oakland-East Bay labor movement (University Press of America, 2000). Albert has published stories, poetry, essays and reviews in a variety of “little” magazines over the years. Albert retired to Tucson in 2001. He has won awards from the Arizona State Poetry Society and Society of Southwestern Authors.