Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Our Opinion: Coming – millions of new neighbors

Casa Grande gets a new mall. 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.

Casa Grande gets a new mall. 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.

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.

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SPECIAL REPORT
CHALLENGE: How to live sensibly in a hot, crowded place

PERSPECTIVE: A megapolitan nation

CROW: ASU president on the transformation of once-rural Arizona

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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