Our Opinion: Coming – millions of new neighborsby Tucson Citizen on Jun. 02, 2008, under Opinion
It wasn’t that long ago that the drive from Tucson to Phoenix was a boring trek across nearly a hundred miles of steaming desert, interrupted only by the tiny communities of Eloy and Casa Grande.
But today, that drive is vastly different. Homes, golf courses, shopping centers and other businesses crowd Interstate 10 most of the way. Bedroom communities planned for people presumably commuting to Tucson or Phoenix are only 20 miles apart.
The two-lane I-10 is woefully inadequate. Parts that aren’t or haven’t been widened soon will be.
That is only a hint of what lies ahead, as outlined in “Megapolitan: Arizona’s Sun Corridor,” a new report by the Morrison Institute at Arizona State University. Excerpts from the report are reprinted on this page and the next.
The Sun Corridor cuts a wide swath across Arizona, from the international border in Nogales, through Tucson, Phoenix and north past the Prescott area.
Today, the corridor is home to about 5 million people. By 2030 – a generation from now – it could be home to 7.9 million people. In 2040, 10 million people may live in the corridor, making it as populous as metropolitan Chicago is today.
The challenges of such growth are daunting and will require planning on a new level.
Up until now, regional planning has encompassed all of Pima County or all of Maricopa County. That definition is inadequate.
Residents of Santa Cruz, Cochise, Pima, Pinal, Maricopa, Yavapai and other counties will be affected by what each of the others do – and fail to do.
How can six counties, 57 municipalities and more than 300 other governmental units scattered across 30,000 square miles deal with a tangle of interests and responsibilities?
Clearly, water will be one of the primary factors limiting where and how quickly people move to the Sun Corridor. But how much water is there? How long will it last? How many human beings can it support?
In Arizona, only water supplies in Active Management Areas, such as Tucson, have been extensively studied. Much of the Sun Corridor lies outside such areas.
Water decisions and land-use decisions have historically been made independently of each other.
The Morrison Institute report suggests that “water decisions will need to be more transparent, more responsive and more clearly linked to future growth projections.”
That is starting to happen in Pima County, where land use changes take into account water use and availability.
The Sun Corridor is an exciting vision of what Arizona will be in the next generation.
The potential is enormous, but so are the challenges.
CHALLENGE: How to live sensibly in a hot, crowded place