The state has agreed to match a $25 million federal grant to begin construction of a flyover ramp that will connect Arizona 189 to Interstate 19.

The Arizona Department of Transportation has agreed to match a $25 million federal grant to begin construction of a flyover ramp in Nogales to expedite the flow of trade from Mexico.

The 3.7-mile Arizona 189 is one of the shortest state routes in Arizona yet supports the Mariposa Port of Entry, one of the nation’s busiest ports serving as the gateway for most of the winter produce entering the United States. It is also a major hub for trade between Arizona and Mexico, estimated at $30 billion annually.

In approving the annual update to ADOT’s five-year transportation facilities construction plan on Friday, the Arizona State Transportation Board endorsed ADOT’s recommendation to move forward with the $134 million project that will include flyover routes connecting both northbound and southbound lanes of Arizona 189 with Interstate 19.

More than 7 million vehicle cross the port every year, including 350,000 commercial trucks.

The move will get commercial trucks off surface roads used by commuters in Nogales.

“Thanks to the leadership and vision of Governor Doug Ducey, state lawmakers, the Arizona-Mexico Commission, members of Congress and leaders in Nogales and Santa Cruz County, we will be able to move forward with all of these improvements that are critical to Arizona’s economy,” ADOT Director John Halikowski said. “A State Route 189 that can better support international trade will make Nogales, Santa Cruz County and Arizona better places to live and do business.”

Building the entire project at one time, which will save about $13 million, is possible because of funding from a variety of local, state and federal sources, officials said.

The Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) federal grant was awarded to the project in March.

The TIGER grant program gives special consideration to projects that emphasize improved access to reliable, safe, and affordable transportation for communities in rural areas, such as projects that improve infrastructure condition, address public health and safety, promote regional connectivity, or facilitate economic growth or competitiveness.

In addition to the flyover ramps connecting Arizona 189 and I-19, the project will include a bridge over Frank Reed Road, as well as roadway and intersection improvements.

The Mariposa port accounts for more than $8 billion in exports and $7.2 billion in imports.

In 2014, the federal government completed a $225 million project to expand the Mariposa Port of Entry to accommodate more commercial vehicles. ADOT built a new truck safety inspection station next to the new port in 2014.

Construction of the new flyover ramp is expected to begin next year.

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Gabriela's newspaper career began at the Tucson Citizen in '86 as the "movie-times girl" where she'd call local theaters for showtimes. Since then, she's written about crime, education, immigration, trade and business. She's been with the Star since 2007.