The plan would widen 1.5 miles of Aerospace Parkway to four lanes, with a median.

A.E. Araiza / Arizona Daily Star 2015

On the heels of major economic development news in the area, Pima County has been awarded $10 million to widen and expand Aerospace Parkway, south of Tucson International Airport near Raytheon Missile Systems.

The Pima Association of Governments’ regional council approved the award Thursday, and the money will be drawn from the state’s share of the Highway User Revenue Fund.

The region’s share of that portion of HURF funds is around $100 million over five years, and the Aerospace Parkway project has been added to PAG’s five-year plan, said Farhad Moghimi, PAG executive director.

As it stands, the plan calls for 1.5 miles of Aerospace Parkway being widened to four lanes with a median.

Additionally, the funds will cover a 0.4-of-a-mile, two-lane extension of Raytheon Parkway, which intersects Aerospace. Moghimi said the current timeline calls for design to start this fiscal year, with construction taking place in fiscal years 2018 and 2019.

Promoting economic development is a key rationale for the project, according to Pima County Department of Transportation’s application.

“It is important to note that Raytheon is recommending to their suppliers and subcontractors that they consider locating offices/production facilities in this area to better support Raytheon operations,” a description of the project scope reads.

“Build it and they will come,” county Transportation Director Priscilla Cornelio said in an interview, adding that there are “discussions with companies right now” about moving to the area.

The Star reported this week that Raytheon intends to hire nearly 2,000 people as a part of a coming expansion.

Other employers seriously eyeing the area could bring another 1,500 or so jobs, county officials have said.

Vector Space Systems, which manufactures rockets to send small satellites into space, recently announced plans to build a plant and headquarters nearby, a move expected to bring 200 jobs.

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Pima County reporter and Road Runner columnist for the Arizona Daily Star