The Sonoran Corridor, a proposed highway that would connect Interstate 19 to Interstate 10 and cut time and miles off the trip north from Mexico to one of the country’s major trade routes, is a step closer to reality with the legislative support of Arizona Sens. Jeff Flake and John McCain and Rep. Martha McSally.

The trio have introduced legislation in the Senate and House that would include the Sonoran Corridor in the federal interstate system. The recognition would help make the project eligible for federal funding.

The Sonoran Corridor would branch off I-19 near Pima Mine Road, where the Desert Diamond Casino is located, and connect with I-10 near Vail. It would tie in to what’s now known as Aerospace Parkway, formerly the Hughes Access Road.

The land between I-19 and I-10 is largely undeveloped and could be attractive to commercial and manufacturing companies that need space for a large footprint.

The corridor would connect aerospace and defense manufacturers, such as Raytheon, on the south with the Port of Tucson rail yard and University of Arizona Tech Park near Vail. It would link with the Tucson International Airport-area, too, and create a hub for manufacturing, shipping and logistics.

The proximity to Mexico and one of the nation’s biggest trade routes, I-10, gives Pima County and Tucson a prime opportunity to attract businesses that need space, access to rail, air and ground transportation.

The land in that area is less environmentally sensitive than elsewhere so environmental concerns shouldn’t pose an obstacle to development, according to Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry.

The corridor, a 16-mile stretch, could cost as much as $600 million, he said, based on costs today. Pima County has included $30 million for the corridor in the bond package voters will decide in November.

The plan has the potential to benefit the state, not only Southern Arizona, and we’re glad to hear from Huckelberry, as reported in a story by the Star’s Patrick McNamara, that “It’s becoming more of a shared investment with state, local and federal governments.”

The Sonoran Corridor would benefit more than commercial traffic. Residents in Sahuarita and Green Valley must drive north on I-19 into Tucson to catch I-10 east. A connection would help residents get to the central and eastern parts of Tucson more quickly.

We are encouraged by the support from McCain, Flake and McSally. It’s an initial step, but an important one, toward creating the infrastructure that will help attract companies and capitalize on the assets, such as proximity to Mexico and the region’s aerospace industry, we already have.