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'It's about the neighborhood:' South Tucson business owners, residents vet transit project

The planned 'Norte Sur' rapid transit corridor is planned for the enclave
Posted at 6:39 PM, May 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-14 21:39:35-04

SOUTH TUCSON, ARIZ — The bustling thoroughfare of South Sixth Avenue is poised for transformation with the launch of the ambitious Norte-Sur project.

The venture, aimed at enhancing transit and spurring economic development, holds the promise of reshaping the landscape of South Tucson and its neighboring areas.

At the heart of the initiative lies a commitment to equitable transit-oriented development (eTOD).

Ian Sansom, Project Manager at the City of Tucson Department of Transportation and Mobility, elucidated the project's scope, emphasizing its role in fostering inclusive growth.

"It’s a policy plan for equitable transit-oriented development in advance of a proposed 15-mile high-capacity transit corridor," Sansom said.

Today, community stakeholders met to discuss the project's trajectory and solicit feedback from local businesses and residents.

Roxanne Valenzuela, City Council Member for South Tucson, underscored the importance of community engagement in ensuring that the project aligns with the needs and aspirations of the people it serves.

"People are so scared of change, but when they know that we have their back and we’re going to create policies that protect them and benefit from the development, they feel a little bit better," Valenzuela said.

The Norte-Sur plan encompasses a slew of initiatives, ranging from the establishment of rapid transit bus stops to infrastructure enhancements along the Sixth Avenue corridor.

Notably, the project seeks to cultivate a climate of sustainable growth while safeguarding the interests of local stakeholders.

David Garcia, owner of Barrio Restoration, shared the sentiments of many small business owners in the area.

"I would like for the neighborhood to benefit from it, local businesses… For it also not to displace or affect neighborhood residents by raising the rents," Garcia said, echoing concerns about displacement and gentrification.

As the Norte-Sur project unfolds, planners said they remain committed to realizing a vision of development that is both transformative and inclusive.

By fostering vibrant, connected communities and expanding access to economic opportunities, the initiative promises to usher in a new era for South Tucson and its residents.

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Eddie Celaya is a multimedia journalist at KGUN 9. Born in Tucson and raised in the Phoenix area, Eddie is a life-long Arizonan and graduate of the University of Arizona who loves the desert and mountains and hates the cold. Previously, Eddie worked in print media at the Arizona Daily Star. Share your story ideas with Eddie at edward.celaya@kgun9.com, or by connecting on Facebook or Instagram.