[Source: Glen Creno, Arizona Republic] — The state Department of Transportation has won a $1 million federal grant to help pay for a study of passenger rail service between Tucson and Phoenix. The grant comes from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Arizona will match the $1 million with funds from state, local, tribal, and private sources. The money is for the first year of an environmental impact statement.
Rail service connecting the two cities has been talked about for years. Most recently, it was proposed as part of a statewide transportation-funding initiative that failed to make this year’s ballot. Planners say the line would run through a developing “megapolitan” — an uber-urban mass of development that would merge the two cities.
[Source: “A Region on the Brink: the Southern Intermountain West,” Brian Krier, Next American City] — The Southern Intermountain West encompasses Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah, a massive region facing a considerable population boom and a rapidly evolving economy, neither of which are expected to slow down in the next few decades. According to the report, the Mountain megas’ population and job base could very well double by 2040, a rate that will drastically outpace the rest of the country. The report concludes that growth in the region will have “tremendous implications for the built environment and regional construction activity,” estimating that the current housing stock will need to be nearly doubled and non-residential space would need to increased by a total of 9.4 billion square feet. Future expenditures for this alone would push well into the trillions of dollars.
Geography will also continue to play a key role in the development of the region. Because the federal government remains the region’s principal landowner, the policies that govern these areas have significant impact on what is leftover. With much of the densely populated areas tucked neatly inside mountain ranges or sprung up from deserts, a number of quality of life issues have sprung up that need addressing: access to public transportation, reducing automobile dependence, and improving urban spaces. All of these concerns, of course, pale in comparison to the most critical issue facing the West: water management. As development continues throughout the West, water access and management may very well determine whether this current boom can be sustained.
In order to face these issues head-on, the report calls for a “new federal-state-mega partnership that will allow the region’s pivotal megapolitan areas to surmount their common challenges and assert their leadership in the nation and the world.” [Note: To read the full article, click here.]
[Source: Morrison Institute, Arizona State University] — Arizona is one of the nation’s most urban states, and now it includes one of 20 “megapolitan” areas in the U.S. People have predicted for 50 years that Phoenix and Tucson would grow together into a giant desert conglomerate — a possibility that has been seen as exciting, intriguing, and distressing. While a solid city is unlikely given the diverse land ownership in central and southern Arizona, it is true that the two metro economies are merging.
Morrison Institute’s new report “Megapolitan: Arizona’s Sun Corridor,” one of the first reports in the U.S. on a single megapolitan area, recognizes a more sophisticated technique for analyzing urban growth — that shared economic and quality of life interests are more important than physically growing together. The report offers a bold potential picture of Arizona’s urban geography, its future opportunities, and “megaton” challenges. Just released and available online, it presents a scenario for 2035 based on some current trends. It analyzes the Sun Corridor and provides insights into the region’s global potential, water, governance, sustainability, and “trillion dollar questions.” It discusses the “tragedy of the sunshine” and asks the provocative question: In 2035, will you want to live in the Sun Corridor?