TUCSON - Landowners will pay $40 million to design and build a new freeway interchange north of Tucson, the first project in Pima County paid for by developers under state rules adopted in the mid-1990s.
The six landowners will pay to have Tangerine Road in Marana moved 1/2 mile to the northwest and a new Interstate 10 interchange built to open up hundreds of acres for commercial development.
"This is going to be a really major commercial area for Southern Arizona," said David Mehl, whose Cottonwood Properties owns 110 acres near the existing interchange.
Marana officials and owners of more than 1,500 nearby acres expect the area to become a significant regional corridor that could become a top shopping destination.
Projects proposed for the area include at least one large shopping center, an auto mall and other commercial developments.
"It's the most significant commercial corner until you get to Phoenix," Marana Town Manager Mike Reuwsaat said. "This will eventually bring all the Avra Valley traffic, as well as the Oro Valley traffic, through the area."
Local property owners spent the past year developing the plan approved last week by the Town Council.
The Arizona Department of Transportation would likely have taken years to begin considering a new interchange in the area, and the project was not on any funding lists.
The first developer-financed highway projects occurred north of Phoenix in the mid-1990s, when builders of the Anthem master-planned community spent more than $30 million to design and construct two interchanges along Interstate 17, said Greg Gentsch, an engineer for ADOT's Tucson district.
"It's a new, up-and-coming thing, but it's starting to become more common," Gentsch said. "There's so much growth in this state it's the only fair way to deal with it."