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Freight Economy

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FHWA's Roundtable on the Freight Economy: Tucson, Arizona

Date: February 23, 2016

Our Host: Tucson Metro Chamber

Key Regional Transportation Facilities and Freight Hubs

HIGHWAYSI-10 and I-19, State Route 86, State Route 77 and Designated, but not yet constructed: I-11 and Sonoran Corridor.
RAILROADSUnion Pacific Sunset Corridor, BNSF
AIRPORTSTucson International Airport (TUS), Ryan Field (RYN), Marana Regional Airport (AVQ), Pinal Airpark (MZJ)
BORDER PORTS OF ENTRYPort of Nogales and Port of Tucson (inland)

Freight Facilities

Map of Tucson showing: railroads, highways and airports

Source: HDR Engineering, Inc., CPCS

Stakeholders Represented by the Following:

What the future of freight will look like for Tucson:

Top 5 Commodities by Value 2040

Commodity Value (millions $) % of total
Misc. mfg. prods. 50,841 34%
Precision instruments 18,760 12%
Electronics 14,810 10%
Motorized vehicles 14,341 9%
Machinery 10,618 7%
All commodities 151,002 100%

Top 5 Commodities by Weight 2040

Commodity Tons (thousands) % of total
Nonmetal min. prods. 10,481 23%
Gravel 4,504 10%
Natural sands 3,101 7%
Metallic ores 2,313 5%
Natural gas 2,214 5%
All commodities 46,346 100%

Trading Partners 2040

Outbound by Weight of Shipment
(thousand tons)

Trade partner Tonnage % of total
Arizona 9,441 54%
Mexico 4,290 24%
Canada 1,288 7%
California 737 4%
Texas 340 2%
Total outbound 17,571 100%

Inbound by Weight of Shipment
(thousand tons)

Trade partner Tonnage % of total
Arizona 8,720 63%
Mexico 987 7%
California 691 5%
Colorado 614 4%
Connecticut 393 3%
Total inbound 13,761 100%

*2012 from FAF4, 2040 from FAF3

Modal Freight Share by Tonnage, 2012 and 2040

2012: Truck 77.6%, Rail 4.7%, Water 0.1%, Air 0.1%, Multiple mode/Mail 1.9%, Pipeline 15.6%, and Other/unknown 0.0%.  2040: Truck 86.8%, Rail 7.9%, Water 0.0%, Air 0.1%, Multiple mode/Mail 1.5%, Pipeline 1.5%, and Other/unknown 2.2%.  Freight demand expected to grow from 36.5 million tons (2012) to 46.4 million tons (2040).

The Tucson Region will see multimodal freight activity grow by 27% between 2012 and 2040.

The majority of Tucson's freight activity is domestic (88% by value and 85% by tonnage).

Both by value and tonnage, the region’s international freight will expand nearly three times over, fueled by strong trade growth with Mexico and Canada.

Tucson has a higher share of freight activity moving by truck (87%) as compared to the nation (70%; tonnage based). Key truck corridors are I-19 and I-10.

Trucks transported freight shipments valued at approximately $17 billion through the port of Nogales in 2014. By loaded container volume, Nogales is also the fourth largest rail gateway in the nation.

The port of Tucson is a key freight facility serving southern Arizona and northern Mexico. It is also serving Midwestern grain markets with outbound container movements to Asia.

Aerospace manufacturing is one of the Tucson region’s largest transportation-reliant industries.

National study of the I-10 freight corridor shows current truck volumes to be around 13,000 trucks per day traveling I-10 through Arizona. The I-10 corridor also includes the UP rail line that extends from the Port of LA/Long Beach through Tucson, eastward to New Orleans. Approximately, 50-60 trains travel through Tucson each day.

Rail currently accounts for 4.7% of Tucson’s freight tonnage, but this share is anticipated to grow to nearly 8% by 2040, a regional rail hub for Union Pacific (UP).

The sectors of trade, transportation, warehousing and manufacturing account for more than 125,000 (30%) jobs in the region.

The transportation and logistics sector grew faster (5.3%) than the statewide economy (4.9%), 1997-2012, and jobs in this sector pay higher than average salaries.

Sources for Freight Facts: FAF, BTS, AZDOT, PAG

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