State Route 189 improvement project nears completion in Nogales

ADOT’s $134 million project to boost economy and safety

Photo of the SR 189 interchange with I-19

NOGALES – The Arizona Department of Transportation is nearing completion on the $134 million project to improve international trade and safety on the 3.75-mile State Route 189, with a new connection that more seamlessly links the international port of entry at Mariposa Road with Interstate 19.

“The SR 189 project is a winner for southern Arizona, our entire state and the Arizona-Mexico corridor,” said Governor Doug Ducey. “It’s exactly the project we need to ensure the smooth and safe flow of commerce, bringing goods and people into the country. Thank you to the city of Nogales, Santa Cruz County and all of the partners in and around Nogales who helped make this unique project possible.”

“SR 189 is a critical route for international trade with Mexico, tying directly to a key commerce corridor,” said ADOT Director John Halikowski. “This project will benefit North American trade and tourism while making Mariposa Road safer for drivers and the community. We also look forward to enhancing the system of ports of entry along our southern border, with upcoming projects in San Luis and Douglas.”

The Mariposa Port of Entry is among the busiest in the United States. Close to 370,000 northbound trucks crossed the border at Nogales in 2021, carrying nearly $30 billion in goods, including much of the winter produce consumed in the U.S. 

The upgrades to SR 189 include flyover ramps connecting the highway with I-19, creating grade separation on a key local intersection, eliminating the need for commercial trucks to stop multiple times between the international border and I-19. Since the ramps opened in late February, the infrastructure improvement is helping speed the flow of commerce and attract even more trade between Mexico and Arizona. 

Construction began in May 2020. ADOT was able to advance the project two years earlier than originally planned after a $25 million appropriation was approved by the Arizona Legislature and signed by Governor Doug Ducey. Also, Arizona received a $25 million federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant.

“This project exemplifies the priorities of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and commitment to improve transportation infrastructure and supply chains nationwide,” said Deputy Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack. “The SR 189 project will improve air quality, traffic flow and safety for the region. We applaud ADOT for this major investment in Arizona’s future.”

Additionally, utilizing an innovative funding mechanism, the city of Nogales, Santa Cruz County and ADOT all agreed to contribute a portion of the funds they receive each year from overweight permits that trucking companies purchase when their loads exceed 80,000 pounds. 

The project also benefits Nogales residents and businesses by reducing congestion on one of the community’s primary roads, which passes by Nogales High School. It includes a new roundabout at Target Range Road and improved drainage and traffic signals.

“This project was essential to ensure the safety of our residents and the millions of tourists who rely on this road to get to their destinations,” said Nogales Mayor Arturo Garino. “The construction phase of the project was also a great contributor to our local economy. I am grateful to ADOT and all those that contributed to this major project making Nogales’ roads second to none.”

The Mariposa Port of Entry was upgraded in 2014, and the SR 189 project will now build on that earlier investment.

“This is not just a Nogales project but a project that impacts the entire Arizona-Mexico corridor,” said Jamie Chamberlain, chairman of the Greater Nogales Santa Cruz County Port Authority. “When you combine this investment with the investments made on the Mexican road from Mexico City to the border with Arizona, it makes us more competitive against those corridors that lead to California, New Mexico and Texas.” 

Bruce Bracker, of the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors, said the highway is a gateway for billions of trade and millions of visitors from Mexico. 

“After the U.S. government spent $250 million modernizing the Mariposa port of entry, SR 189 remained the major bottleneck and a safety concern for a local school,” Bracker said. “The county’s contribution to this project is an investment in the safety, growth and economic development of the region. We are grateful to Governor Ducey, ADOT and the US Department of Transportation for making this project a reality, and proud that Santa Cruz County could be a partner in this effort.”

Ames/Horrocks is the Design Build team on the project, with Ames leading construction and Horrocks leading design.

To learn more about the project, please visit azdot.gov/SR189

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