A host of government and business leaders broke ground Tuesday for a road project on Tucson's South Side, declaring that it is a big step toward economic opportunity for the area.
Aerospace Parkway will run five miles from Nogales Highway on the West to Alvernon Way on the east and give Raytheon Missile Systems a bigger buffer than it now has from urban development.
County leaders called the new road the first step in a multi-phase project that they think will help develop the local economy.
The $12.7 million project will allow Raytheon to relocate one building on its property and leave space for future expansion. It also will allow for other high-tech companies, including Raytheon suppliers, to locate along Aerospace Parkway.
“The opening of an aerospace corridor that will connect I-10 and I-19 is significant not just for Raytheon, but for the enterprises we hope will come and establish themselves here,” said Raytheon President Taylor Lawrence.
The road creates room to the north for a second runway at Tucson International Airport, allowing for commercial air service expansion, and possibly help the Arizona Air National Guard's 162nd Fighter Wing.
“I think [the 162nd is] probably the best kept secret in Arizona," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. "I think it’s the best kept secret because pilots from all over the world from countries that get the F-16 train right here.”
McCain was among a large group of politicians and business leaders participating in the groundbreaking ceremony.
The Aerospace Parkway project will be paid for with funds from the Regional Transportation Authority. Funding for the next phase, a two-lane road connecting Aerospace Parkway and Interstate 10 at Rita Road, is proposed as part of the next county bond election.