In its prime in the 1940s and 50s, the Benson Highway in south Tucson was a roughly 4-mile stretch with businesses that went by the names of the Roundup Motel and Restaurant, La Paloma Chinese Foods, and the Anchor Drive-In Theatre.
But once the federal government completed construction of the new north-to-south Interstate 10, the Benson Highway began to experience a steep decline in traffic and visitors.
Now Pima County officials are exploring ways to bring the highway back through the Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields program.
That program seeks to eradicate land contamination associated with old industrial plants, gas stations, and junk yards. By so doing, such land is made more attractive to modern day investors and developers.
As managed by Pima County, the program, with $300,000 in federal money, will, according to a county release, “encourage the reuse of these abandoned, deteriorated, and underutilized properties into productive and viable land uses facilitating community and economic revitalization in targeted areas.”
Local officials say an outreach effort designed to help them identify specific troubled Benson Highway sites is already underway.
By Garry Boulard
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