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Key Nogales produce route gets $134M infusion

The Fresh Produce Association of the Americas is celebrating a major victory in enhancing infrastructure vital in getting fresh produce from the border and into consumers’ hands. The Arizona State Transportation Board announced they will fund the full build-out and expansion of State Route 189 to the tune of $134 million.

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 full-funding announcement is a revision from earlier budget commitments to complete the work in two phases over the course of several years. The funding package also leverages state, federal, and local funding that make up the entire $134 million price tag.

“The road improvement should speed roundtrip delivery from the port of entry to some warehouses by 20 minutes or more per truck, giving companies a valuable incentive to locate their operations in Nogales,” said Lance Jungmeyer, FPAA president.

“This is the culmination of many years of hard work in unifying support from groups across Arizona about this important roadway,” Jungmeyer said. “From Flagstaff to Phoenix to Tucson, communities were all talking about the importance of funding this much-needed expansion. We are always looking for ways to speed up the produce superhighway that is Nogales, and this funding is an important step in our continued success.”

Nogales and Santa Cruz County are committing approximately $45 million over the course of several years from their share of a fee paid by produce trucks crossing the border. The state legislature committed $25 million of general fund money to this project. The road is also recognized as vital on a Federal level as well as evidenced by the investment of $25 million for the project through the award of a Federal Tiger Grant.

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. The project is also designed as a crucial safety measure by separating the ingress and egress of local high school traffic from the intersection where it meets with the commercial traffic on SR 189. The project has been fast-tracked to begin in 2019.

“SR 189 is the artery that drives our economy by facilitating the movement of trucks and passengers into and out of Arizona, and 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," added Jungmeyer. "Ultimately this will be a major win for our customers and the end consumers because we will have faster deliveries of the fresh, high-quality produce that is synonymous with Nogales.”