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Transportation and Trade Corridor Alliance to Develop Strategic Road Map

Steering committee holds second quarterly meeting in Phoenix

PHOENIX — Leaders tasked with strengthening Arizona’s role in the global marketplace came together on May 15 in Phoenix to discuss how to map out a plan to foster jobs, trade, the economy and a transportation system that will meet future needs.

The second quarterly meeting of the Transportation and Trade Corridor Alliance brought together key leaders from the state’s transportation, trade and commerce industries, along with international entities. The TTCA Steering Committee’s goals for a robust business and transportation plan for Arizona will be laid out in a road map that will develop a statewide vision.

“The road map will be a blueprint for strategic investments in transportation infrastructure to promote trade and job creation in Arizona,” said Margie Emmermann, executive director of the Arizona-Mexico Commission. The draft road map will be presented for approval at the Nov. 26 TTCA meeting. The final road map will be released in January 2014.

Emmermann is one of five leaders who head up the TTCA Steering Committee. The TTCA co-chairs are former Arizona Congressman Jim Kolbe and Arizona Department of Transportation Director John Halikowski. They are joined by Sandra Watson, president and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority, and Michael Hunter, director of policy and the special advisor on tax policy and reform for the Office of Governor Jan Brewer.

The steering committee began its discussion by focusing on Arizona’s trade relationship with Mexico, our neighbor to the south and the world’s 14th largest economy. A public listening session was held in April in Tucson to communicate the importance of the border, Arizona’s ports of entry, and our state’s proximity to Mexico as an asset for trade, growth and the economy.

“There were some common themes that developed out of this listening session, such as the need for improved rail connectivity with Mexico,” said Emmermann. “It was also determined that infrastructure is critical to long-term, sustainable growth, and that Arizona needs to better prepare for competition with Texas and California in the regional and global marketplaces.”

That competition is fueled by the need for enhanced freight and goods movement throughout Arizona. Gene Seroka, president-Americas of APL Limited, provided an update on behalf of the TTCA Freight Subcommittee that focused on the development of a comprehensive and multifaceted freight plan. The plan would suggest intermodal and multimodal (land, rail and air) freight actions that could enhance Arizona’s business competitiveness.

Tim Strow, with the Maricopa Association of Governments, also addressed the need for increased freight connectivity. His organization is examining opportunities in the Sun Corridor through a Freight Transportation Framework Study. The goal of the study is to identify and pursue freight-related economic development opportunities for Arizona. It’s a strategy that received widespread support from the TTCA Steering Committee.

“A better freight system will allow us to rebrand Phoenix as a transportation hub,” said LaTonya Finch, regional manager of economic development for BNSF Railway Company. “We can make Phoenix a dynamic megapolitan market.”

“We have the potential — we just need to start putting the pieces together,” said ADOT Director John Halikowski, citing the need for increased freight activity and the push to develop an Interstate 11 corridor that would potentially connect Canada with Mexico.

Halikowski underscored the need for transportation infrastructure investments now, along with setting the stage for trade in the global marketplace, despite the financial realities of $350 million in reductions to ADOT’s Five-Year Transportation Facilities Construction Program. The Five-Year Program covers the construction budget for highways, transit, airports and highway-support facilities throughout Arizona.

Halikowski acknowledged that the challenge ahead is to make the public understand the need to invest in transportation infrastructure now to grow jobs and the economy in order to boost Arizona’s competitiveness in the global marketplace.

“Our job is not to lead the horse to water. Our job is not to make the horse drink. Our job is to make the horse thirsty,” he said.

The TTCA is a partnership between the Arizona Department of Transportation, the Arizona-Mexico Commission and the Arizona Commerce Authority. The Alliance brings together the public and private sector, state and local governments, planning organizations, transportation and logistics companies, port authorities and other relevant stakeholders to assess current and potential opportunities for job creation, attracting new investment and fostering growth.

For information about upcoming TTCA events, visit