Avoid a Wrong Turn in Arizona…Oppose the proposed I-10 Bypass!

posted Thursday, December 18, 2008        

Avoid a Wrong Turn in Arizona…Oppose the proposed I-10 Bypass!

Meeting Time and Location:
9:45 a.m., Friday, December 19, 2008
City of Tucson Council Chambers
255 W. Alameda
Dear Arizona Wildlife Supporter,
The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) is proposing a new bypass around Tucson that would have devastating consequences for Arizona wildlife — and they need to hear from you!  ( for more information on the proposal, see: http://tpd.azdot.gov/planning/i10bypass.php)
Despite intense public opposition to the bypass proposal at a series of public meetings held this past year, the ADOT Board is still considering putting a stamp of approval on this damaging and expensive proposal.  During the last comment period, Defenders members sent a strong message of opposition to the bypass concept – we submitted nearly 1,000 comments!  We successfully stopped the proposed route through the ecologically sensitive San Pedro River Valley.  Now the ADOT board is considering the merits of putting it south of the Santa Rita mountains and up through Avra Valley.  We need to keep up the pressure against the bypass concept.

ADOT’s proposal would be a major step backward for Arizona won’t solve the congestion we’re seeing in the Tucson area, and it runs contrary to decades of progressive, collaborative work to preserve our wild lands, wildlife and cultural resources.   For example, all of the proposed bypass route would run through one or more wildlife linkages identified by ADOT’s statewide Wildlife Linkage Assessment (see: http://www.dot.state.az.us/Highways/OES/AZ_WildLife_Linkages/assessment.asp) and will negatively impact key conservation lands identified in the landmark Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan.

And, at a time when global warming poses a significant and growing threat, ADOT’s proposing exactly the type of unsustainable transportation planning practices that got us to this crisis point in the first place.  We can do better than a bypass!

The I-10 Interstate bypass proposal is a wrong turn for Arizona – and for Arizona’s wildlife.  Help us oppose this ill-conceived plan!

The proposed bypass route through Avra Valley would tear into undeveloped areas that provide vital habitat and key movement corridors for many of of Arizona’s unique wildlife species — several of them already threatened or endangered — like the Sonoran desert tortoise, cactus ferruginous pygmy owl, jaguar, mountain lion, black bear and bighorn sheep.

Urge ADOT to invest in a more sustainable future.  Attend the upcoming public meeting this Friday!

Alternative solutions to a bypass exist that promote smart growth and would preserve our precious natural resources for generations to come.

A more ecologically and economically sensible approach would be to run passenger trains down existing rail corridors, and encourage more freight to be shipped via rail, which is significantly more efficient than trucks. An intercity railway would promote sustainable growth, help alleviate freeway congestion problems, benefit our growing commuter population, and cut down on greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming, and protect our wildlife and wild lands.

ADOT should instead work to modernize freight and commuter rail systems, widen and/or “double-deck” the existing interstate highway before putting any more taxpayer resources into proposing new routes through important habitats and wildlife corridors in our state.

Take Action!
Please attend an upcoming meeting to make your voice heard regarding the impact of an interstate bypass through our rural and environmentally sensitive landscapes. This will likely be the last opportunity for some time for the public to express opposition to this environmentally destructive proposal. If the board approves it, the bypass route will be on official maps and will come closer to becoming a reality.
The State Transportation Board will meet in Tucson on this Friday, December 19 to consider approval of the recently completed I-10 Bypass alternatives study, which recommends the Avra Valley route as the preferred route for the bypass. The Board has scheduled a “study session” at 9:00 AM followed by the public meeting starting at 9:45
Here are some talking points to consider…

*    Traffic volumes do not warrant a bypass. Traffic congestion problems are best addressed at its source: in the immediate Tucson and Phoenix areas, with viable solutions such as improved public transportation.
*    The I-10 bypass is projected to cost up to $8 billion, and no funding source currently exists for the project.  It would cost about the same amount to implement an intercity rail service between Phoenix and Tucson.  If Arizona is going to invest in a huge 10-figure transportation expenditure, we should invest in a sustainable, environmentally conscious option that services the Phoenix-Tucson “megapolitan” area – its population is projected to reach 10 million in 30 years. The Sacramento-Oakland-San Jose Capitol Corridor rail line, one of the fastest growing places in the nation, is a model of this more sustainable approach to transportation planning..
*    Governor Napolitano has ordered ADOT officials to analyze the potential for mass transit in the state. We want efficient mass-transit for Arizona, not a massive waste of taxdollars on an ineffective solution.
*    The proposed bypasses around Tucson and Phoenix are not consistent with of Arizona’s Long Range Transportation Plan (MoveAZ),  Arizona’s Growing Smarter Initiative or the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan, and do not enjoy broad public support.
*    The proposed bypass route would cut through and impact numerous ecologically sensitive areas, such as the Ironwood National Forest National Monument, the Saguaro National Park, South Mountain Park, the Bureau of Reclamation Tucson Mitigation Corridor, and other wildlife corridors identified in the ADOT-sponsored Arizona Wildlife Linkage Assessment.
*    The Tucson Mitigation Corridor precludes development of any kind, more or less a major highway through it!
*    Construction of a freeway in any of the proposed route corridors would open adjacent areas up to new commercial and residential development far from existing urban centers, further fragmenting wildlife habitat, polluting air and water, and encouraging more unwanted car and truck travel.
*    With gas prices skyrocketing and global warming a bigger concern than ever, we cannot afford to invest in environmentally degrading transportation plans such as the proposed I-10 bypass that will ultimately increase greenhouse gas emissions and degrade ecosystem integrity.
*    Anticipating increases in freight travel, constructing double track rail line to accommodate freight would be a much more economical choice than a costly bypass.  Rail would move freight 3 times as efficiently as trucks, reduce traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, and would increase highway safety by eliminating hazards related to excessive truck traffic.

Help us spread the word about this important action.  Forward this message on to friends and family in Arizona who might be interested in learning more about this proposal…



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