from Steve Christy

During these difficult times,  a couple of noteworthy events took place recently that I believe, if both come to fruition, will have a very positive economic impact on Pima County.

First, a ceremony was held in Nogales, Arizona on March 4, celebrating the groundbreaking of major improvements to State Route 189. Starting from the Arizona side of the Mariposa Port of Entry, SR-189 will virtually by-pass and “fly over” the surface streets, traffic, school crossings and the general stifling congestion of the Port area through downtown Nogales.

SR-189 will enable truckers and shippers of goods, produce and assorted products from Mexico to have easier and more efficient access from the Port of Entry to I-19. The excruciatingly long lines of trucks that now have to wait, filled with fresh produce before moving on to points north, will flow with greater ease and at a much quicker pace due to this significant project of connectivity. Traffic congestion, and all of its negative by-products, will be drastically reduced.

The safety of the several schools that operate in the northbound trucking paths, as well as the residents of area neighborhoods, will be enhanced and secured. Most importantly, SR-189 will provide for the free-flow of millions of dollars of Mexican trade products to enter markets quicker, fresher, and more cost efficiently. The ceremony itself was most impressive and very well attended with Federal, State and Regional representatives and officials present, including Governor Doug Ducey.

For me, the groundbreaking was especially gratifying. The original concept of SR-189 was a project that evolved while I served on the Arizona State Transportation Board from 2009 to 2014. After all these years of fits and starts, managing a myriad of international and regional issues and complex moving parts, and ‑ most difficult of all – securing the funding, we were finally able to see those several golden-colored shovels actually digging into and moving dirt, while the freshly-cut red ribbon fell to that dirt.

On Tuesday, March 9, the United States Air Force staged a forum at the Tucson Convention Center as part of its public comment gathering efforts for conducting its Environmental Impact Study. The EIS deals with the potential mission assignment of the F-35 Fighter planes to our Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. About 75 people attended with most of them addressing the F-35 mission to the Air Force representatives who conducted the public meeting.

I spoke on behalf of the economic importance that Davis-Monthan means to Southern Arizona and has for decades. Foremost is the $2.6 Billion that Davis-Monthan Air Force Base pumps into our local economy annually. I conveyed to the Air Force representatives present that to think of a Southern Arizona without a Davis-Monthan would be “unfathomable.”

During a radio interview, the reporter asked me about, “those who object to the noise produced by the F-35.” My response was simply, “It’s the sound of freedom.” Securing the F-35 mission at Davis-Monthan will be a tough road to follow as there is significant competition in other nation-wide locations and municipalities. But if Davis-Monthan should be selected to be the home of the F-35, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base’s future will be fully secure for Southern Arizona, bringing even greater economic benefits throughout our region.

Finally, as we go to press in late March, I won’t lecture you about what you have been hearing and dealing with non-stop for several weeks now: COVID-19 or the “Coronavirus.” Suffice it to say that all of you already know all the protocols, please be sure to follow them and remember, “This too shall pass.”

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Steve Christy