The Pima County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution last week to realign Hughes Access Road this summer to allow for the expansion of Tucson’s largest private employer, Raytheon Missile Systems.
The realignment will take place on a four-mile stretch of road that will move the road approximately 2,500 feet to the south.
Board supervisors said the realignment would appease requests from Raytheon by giving the company room for future expansion, and would also serve as an incentive for other large employers to relocate near Raytheon.
The $12.7 million project will also allow the Tucson Airport to build an additional runway.
Joe Snell, President and Chief Executive Officer of Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities, said the road realignment is a crucial step when considering the area’s economic future.
“This is an investment in something that will accelerate our future recovery,” he said. “It’s about jobs. It’s about high-paying jobs.”
Snell said other businesses have demonstrated an interest in relocating near Raytheon, and the road realignment would allow the space to create a business park with Raytheon at its core.
District 1 Supervisor Ally Miller was the lone dissenter on the item, saying the project is nothing more than an expensive gamble on the hope that those businesses come.
Miller said there has been little to no pressure from Raytheon executives to move the road since the item was initially mentioned in 2006.
“If this had been such a concern, why not back in 2006 did we not jump on this and move this road?” Miller questioned. “Now suddenly it’s a concern.”
Miller also questioned why no Raytheon executives were present to see the request through.
“As a voting member of this board, one would think the Raytheon executives that want this road moved so badly would be here in this meeting, or would have contacted my office,” said Miller.
The project falls in Supervisor Ramon Valadez’s District 2. Valadez said the only gamble is to not allow the project.
“This is about providing an economic development opportunity, not a handout, for other companies to be located next to our largest private employer, and, as Mr. Snell mentioned, there has been a desire to do so. This is simply about what is good for the economic development for this community, and what is not.”
Raytheon spokesman John Patterson told various news outlets that the company supports the road movement.