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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Pima County now home to 1 million

    Over the long weekend, Pima County hit a major milestone. Tucson’s home county welcomed its millionth resident.

    Tucson celebrates its independent spirit – and the strong community feelings here sometimes make it difficult to remember the size of our city. However, the county now has a population larger than that of seven entire states. As much as it may sometimes feel like it, Tucson’s no longer a desert outpost. It’s the seat of a large and booming county.

    For UA students, it’s easy to feel isolated from the rest of the Tucson community and even easier to feel isolated from the rest of our county. Many of us live on campus or within a mile or two. This is the center of our Tucson experience.

    But the successes and failures of Pima County bleed over onto our campus-centered lives.ÿThe quality of our city and county will affect the quality of students and faculty our school is able to attract and retain. Location plays a huge role in the college decision.

    Anyone who’s ever cursed the streets of this town attempting to buy groceries or get around the city in the evening knows how important proper traffic management is during this time of growth. And any student who’s been the victim of theft on campus knows the importance of good crime management. These are issues that can only be dealt with holistically – viewing the UA as part of its city and county.

    The rapid growth of Tucson and its surrounding environs has surprised some. We’ve reached the one million mark three years ahead of some planners’ forecasts. However, the growth here is no great mystery.ÿArizona was the No. 1 state for economic growth in 2005.ÿ And Tucson’s own growth is self-propelling. The greater numbers of residents bring in more job opportunities from corporations looking to capitalize on the high population. It’s cyclical and beneficial.

    But some aspects of this growth are far less beneficial. Our transportation system is lagging far behind our population’s needs. Since 1992, the amount of time that commuters spend stuck in traffic has doubled.

    And, though business opportunities are picking up, average salaries in the Tucson-metro area are still only 80 percent of average salaries in Phoenix.

    Tucson’s downtown area has been left behind in this population boom – most of the population growth has occurred in the form of sprawl in Tucson’s reaching suburbs. But the UA campus, only half a mile from the downtown area, can play a major role in future urban development. What’s good for this part of town is good for the university.

    When all’s said and done, there’s not much the county and Tucson proper can do to stem the tide of growth. But the time to manage it correctly is now.

    Our school isn’t an island – and we will be affected by the ways in which city and county planners manage this growth. So now’s the time to develop and implement real and lasting transportation solutions, to ensure that our county doesn’t overextend its utilities, to improve upon our educational system so graduates are ready to attend the UA or work for the new high-tech industries the growth has attracted.

    To our millionth resident, welcome.ÿHopefully your arrival will give our planners the sense of urgency they need to ensure we’re ready to welcome many more.

    Opinions Board

    Opinions are determined by the Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Nina Conrad, Lori Foley, Ryan Johnson, Ari Lerner, Nicole Santa Cruz and Matt Stone.

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