The Fresh Produce Association of the Americas (FPAA) along with Arizona Governor Doug Ducey and organisations from across the state, have celebrated the groundbreaking of a massive overhaul to State Route 189 in Nogales, Arizona.
At an event on 4 March, almost 200 people came together to celebrate what has been described as a 'major victory for Arizona'.
SR 189, also known as Mariposa Road, is the main thoroughfare for trucks crossing the Mariposa Port of Entry in Nogales and heading northbound on I-19 to area warehouses.
The funding package leverages state, federal, City and County funding that make up a US$134m price tag.
“The road improvement will make sure our roads operate at the speed of business, creating an efficient flow of trade and travelers from the Mariposa Port to I-19,” said Lance Jungmeyer, FPAA president. “This project reduces transit time from the port of entry to local warehouses, giving companies a valuable incentive to locate their operations in Nogales.”
The City of Nogales and Santa Cruz County are committing approximately US$45m over the course of several years from their share of a fee paid by produce trucks crossing the border, while the State Legislature committed US$25m of general fund money to this project.
The road is also recognised as vital on a Federal level, and the project received an investment of US$25m through the award of a Federal Tiger Grant.
More than 2,000 trucks a day use the route, and the improvements should save more than ten minutes per northbound truck, according to Arizona Department of Transportation.
“This is huge systems savings,' Jungmeyer added. 'It reduces emissions and makes the whole supply chain more efficient.'
The project will fund important enhancements to the entire length of SR 189 and will also construct a flyover ramp connecting SR 189 to I-19, which eliminates stoplights and left-hand turns that currently hamper movement of heavy trucks onto the interstate.
“This is a project we have been working on for many years,' said Scott Vandervoet, FPAA chairman and president of Vandervoet & Associates. 'It is exciting to see this come to fruition especially since this is one of the largest transportation improvement projects in our state. The benefit this will bring to the produce industry is hugely important as we strive to maintain our competitive advantages.”
In a release from the Arizona Department of Transportation, Governor Ducey said: “We know that better roads mean a better future for Arizona. The improvements along State Route 189 will improve safety, enhance trade and foster an even stronger relationship with our neighbours in Mexico. With record trade already with Mexico, my thanks to the Arizona Department of Transportation, our partners in Mexico and everyone working to improve our infrastructure and attract even more trade through our ports.”
Jungmeyer added: “We are excited about the positive benefits this will bring to our members in the form of faster, safer, more reliable deliveries to their warehouses. Ultimately this is major win for our customers and the end consumer because we will have faster deliveries of the fresh, high-quality produce that Nogales is known for.”