Yuma Roadshow Wrap Up
The Accelerate Arizona Team stopped in Yuma last week. About 30 local government officials and business leaders attended the Town Hall held at Pivot Point Conference Center. Yuma Mayor Doug Nichols as well as Arizona House of Representatives Transportation Committee Chairman Rick Gray and Representatives Charlene Fernandez and Noel Campbell attended this public forum. Prior to the forum, several participants joined a tour of the border region, agriculture sites, the Marine Corps Air Station and Yuma International Airport.
Agriculture, Aviation/Defense and Tourism are leading industries Yuma area. To that end, the forum emphasized the importance of border ports of entry in facilitating international trade. San Luis Port II provides access to major markets throughout Mexico and even beyond. Traffic is going up at both the pedestrian (San Luis I) and the cargo (San Luis II) ports. The value of imports and exports is increasing year by year. Unfortunately, wait times at both ports can be unreasonably long, with lines stretching a mile and a half at peak travel times.
The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol are investing in upgrades to both ports to help traffic move more quickly. However, these projects are not scheduled for completion until 2022, which means many more years of congestion unless the state acts sooner. Delays are causing Yuma and the rest of Arizona to miss certain economic opportunities. In some cases, truckers are driving to other ports in order to get perishable produce delivered while it is still fresh.
The importance of the military as an economic driver in the Yuma region cannot be overstated. Together, the Yuma Proving Grounds (YPG) and the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) employ literally thousands of military and civilian personnel. MCAS operates one of the nation’s premier aviation training facilities. MCAS has a total population of over 10,000, which includes military and their families as well as non-military support personnel.
YPD is one of six Army Test and Evaluation Command Centers nationwide. YPG is especially important because its terrain closely resembles the desert theatres that the Army encounters during critical national defense missions. An enormous range of air and ground combat training activities take place at YPD. The installation has an estimated $450 M economic impact on the Yuma area. In FY 2015, 5,200 freight shipments within the United States and to/from 16 other countries supported YPG’s missions. This included the movement of armored vehicles, artillery and ammunition among other necessities. Almost all shipments arrive via trucks traveling on highways. Necessary upgrades include the widening of Highway 95 and the construction of a bridge over Fortuna Wash.
Yuma occupies a strategic geographic location for the movement of food and other commerce as well as the training of our armed services. We look forward to continuing to work with our friends in Yuma to ensure that transportation funding gets to critical projects in this region.