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Congress Passes McCain’s Measures Advancing Major Trade Route Designations for Arizona

Important Provisions Bolstering Arizona’s Economy Sent to President’s Desk for Signature

Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Senate delivered final passage of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), a five-year, bipartisan, bicameral bill that provides authorization and funding to enhance roads, bridges, and transit programs in Arizona and across the country. This bill is vital to providing state and local officials in Arizona certainty to set transportation priorities, invest in critical infrastructure and plan wisely. It also includes measures supported by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) that would pave the way for establishing the Sonoran Corridor and the future Interstate 11 (I-11). These roads will ensure that Arizona has the infrastructure it needs to develop significant international trade routes for the Western United States. The FAST Act will now be sent to President Obama’s desk for signature.

Senator McCain originally introduced these measures in the Senate with the Sonoran Corridor Interstate Development Act of 2015 and the Intermountain West Corridor Development Act of 2015, which were ultimately included as part of the FAST Act. These provisions will designate the Sonoran Corridor as a future interstate to connect I-19 to I-10 south of the Tucson International Airport, and the future I-11 from Phoenix north to Las Vegas and I-80, and south to Arizona’s southern border. Congresswoman Martha McSally (R-AZ) also sponsored these measures in the House of Representatives.

“This long-term authorization bill provides the funding certainty that state and local officials in Arizona need to repair our aging roads and improve critical infrastructure, while improving safety for all Americans in transit,” said Senator McCain. “I’m particularly proud that this bill includes measures that I cosponsored that will enable Arizona to become a key part of an international trade route that reaches all the way to the southern border, driving economic growth statewide. While this legislation is not perfect, it advances important provisions to help improve our nation’s infrastructure and connect Arizona’s businesses and communities to major domestic and international trade partners.”

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey and leaders from across Arizona also praised the legislation:

“I commend Congress for passing a long-term transportation bill to support critical transportation projects serving our state,” said Arizona Governor Doug Ducey. “This action today will further our mission of creating a transportation system that drives Arizona’s economic development, and attracts business and commerce throughout the state. Transportation is a key element in growing our economy and providing opportunity for all.”

“I am so thankful for Senator McCain and Representative McSally’s leadership in getting this designation added to the transportation bill and through the Congress,” said Sharon Bronson, chair of the Pima County Board of Supervisors. “Their leadership, combined with the strong bipartisan support this project received from the entire Arizona Congressional delegation, resulted in a major victory for the people of southern Arizona and the entire state. The Sonoran Corridor has the potential to be the most significant economic development effort in the county’s history. The very foundation, the very backbone of the entire effort is the auxiliary highway connecting the two interstates. This designation is the first, vital step on the long road we still have to travel for funding and construction. The future prosperity of our region just got a little brighter today.”

“I’m very pleased this project has made it past this hurdle,” said Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild. “The Sonoran Corridor is important to our airport, our major employers, and our regional economy.”

“The Tucson Hispanic Chamber and our affiliated chambers in Nogales, Douglas and Sierra Vista applaud Senator McCain and Congresswoman McSally for their leadership in advancing these major trade route designations for the state of Arizona,” said Lea Márquez Peterson, president of Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “The passage of these measures will enhance the importance of a key trading route from Mexico to the United States.”

The Sonoran Corridor will create an alternative route that will enable the hundreds of thousands of freight vehicles traveling through the Mariposa Port of Entry in Nogales each year to avoid having to pass through the congested city of Tucson to reach major trade routes using I-10. This development is estimated to reduce total travel by 12 miles and 20 minutes per truck, connecting southern Arizona to agricultural regions, infrastructure and manufacturing centers, and existing high priority corridors of the National Highway System. The Sonoran Corridor will also be home to the new Aerospace Parkway next to Tucson International Airport, which has the potential to become one of the largest manufacturing and logistics hubs in the Southwest.

The future I-11 will extend from Arizona’s southern border through Phoenix to Las Vegas and north through the State of Nevada, ensuring the future interstate is connected to the Northwestern United States and plays a key role as an international trade route. Specifically, its designation would provide both states’ Departments of Transportation the flexibility to develop a Northern Nevada and Southern Arizona connectivity corridors as part of the I-11 effort. This full north-to-south, Canada-to-Mexico interstate system is critical for our nation’s mobility, economy, and national defense.

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