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Interstate 19

 

Routing

Interstate 19 is a short freeway in southern Arizona that connects Interstate 10 and Tucson with Nogales and Mexico. It is one of the shortest two-digit Interstate routes, with only Interstate 97 being shorter.

One of the unique features of Interstate 19 is that most of the exit numbers and distance signs are based on the metric system, a first for the U.S. Interstate system. Prior to 2004, all of the signs on Interstate 19 were metric. However, these metric signs are all slated to be replaced. Some of these metric signs were replaced between Arizona 86/Ajo Way and Interstate 10 as part of the project to reconstruct the Interstate 10/19 Crossing (see "Planned Improvements," below). More signs will be replaced as warranted due to age and condition, and large-scale replacements are likely through planned construction projects along the freeway, including the stretch between Valencia Road and Arizona 86/Ajo Way.1

High Priority Corridor

The section of Interstate 19 from Nogales to Tucson is part of High Priority Corridor 26: CANAMEX Corridor.

Parallel/Historical U.S. Routes

The highway followed the original routing of U.S. 89, and Interstate 19 ultimately replaced it. Some old segments of U.S. 89 are now designated as Business Loop I-19, more specifically those in Tucson and Nogales.

Planned Improvements

A $54.3 million 26 month project was recently completed. Known as "The Crossing," the project replaced the substandard northern terminus interchange at Interstate 10. Commencing in June 2002 and finishing in August 2004, "The Crossing" project as it is known by the Arizona Department of Transportation, rebuilds the former trumpet interchange configuration with new high-speed ramps and connections to nearby 12th Avenue for Interstate 10 and 29th Street/Silverlake Road for Interstate 19. The project is part of the overall Interstate 10 rehabilitation for the Tucson metropolitan area. See the Arizona Department of Transportation page The Crossing: I-10/19 Interchange for construction schedules, news, and a map of the project.

Highway Guides

Southern Terminus - Business Loop I-19 - Nogales, Arizona
Perspective from Interstate 19 south
The third to last mainline interchange of Interstate 19 is located at Mariposa with Arizona 189. All trucking interests to the country of Mexico must utilize this interchange to Arizona 189. Interstate 19 itself concludes in four kilometers, with the associated border crossing to Nogales, Sonora in six kilometers. Photo taken by Andy Field (05/25/03).
The second to last mainline interchange of Interstate 19 is Exit 1B with Western Avenue. The freeway continues for two short kilometers before merging with surface streets near downtown Nogales. Photo taken by Andy Field (05/25/03).
The last interchange of Interstate 19, Exit 1A with International Street departs the freeway in 500 meters. 1000 meters is all that remains of Interstate 19. Photo taken by Andy Field (05/25/03).
View of the last overhead signage of Interstate 19 Southbound. Nogales can be seen on the hill in the background, with Interstate 19 still orientated Southward at this point. Just ahead, the freeway curves to the left (east) towards the terminus in the below photo. Photo taken by Andy Field (05/25/03).
Descending toward downtown Nogales, Arizona. Traffic must reduce to 25 mph as Interstate 19 transitions into a surface street. The overhead in the above photograph indicated that a signal is ahead. This is not a traffic light however, just a yellow flasher advising motorists of pedestrian traffic. Photo taken by Andy Field (05/25/03).
The southbound conclusion of Interstate 19 occurs at this intersection. Note the lack of traffic lights or stop signs in place. The extreme southern segment of Interstate 19 ends in an east-west fashion. Ahead is the border crossing to Nogales, Sonora. The International border is easily discernible as the fence on the background hill. Also note the increased density of development on the Mexican side of the city. Photo taken by Andy Field (05/25/03).
Looking the other direction at the beginning of Interstate 19 northbound. There was no sign marking the beginning (nor was there an end sign either). In the far distance is the first exit signage on Interstate 19 Northbound for Western Avenue. Photo taken by Eric Harkness (07/01).
Entering Downtown Nogales at Business Loop I-19. This routing represents the original U.S. 89 through the city to Interstate 19 Exit 8. To the right is the International Border crossing. Mexico Federal Route 15 connects Nogales, Sonora with the provincial capital of Hermosillo. The Federal route continues southward all the way to Mexico City, some 1,350 miles to the southeast. Photo taken by Andy Field (05/25/03).
Northern Terminus - Interstate 10 - Tucson, Arizona
Perspective from Interstate 19 north
The last northbound Interstate 19 interchange is Exit 99 with Arizona 86/Ajo Way. Pictured on this sign bridge is the three kilometer guide sign for Exit 100, the northern terminus of the freeway at Interstate 10. Photo taken by Eric Harkness (04/02/05).
This photo shows the pre-construction scene on northbound Interstate 19 at Exit 99/Arizona 86 - Ajo Way. This east-west state highway travels westward to the Tohono O'Odham Nation and Arizona 85. 12 miles northwest of the terminus is the town from which Ajo Way gets its name. Interstate 19 has two remaining kilometers at this point. Photo taken by Eric Harkness (02/01).
Here are the replacement signs found along northbound Interstate 19 at Exit 99, Junction Arizona 86/Ajo Way. The Interstate 10 control city for all points east of Tucson is El Paso, Texas and not Las Cruces, New Mexico. Photo taken by Eric Harkness (04/02/05).
The left two lanes continue northwest onto westbound Interstate 10, while the right lane exits to Exit 101 (Junction Interstate 10 east to El Paso) and Exit 102, 22nd Street and 29th Street into downtown Tucson. This interchange was completely reconstructed during 2001-2005, and this photo shows the post-construction configuration of the interchange. Note the use of mileage rather than kilometers on these new advance signs. Photo taken by Eric Harkness (04/02/05).
Interstate 19 draws to a close at the upcoming gore point split for Exit 100A/B. As of May 2003, a detour for Interstate 10 westbound to Interstate 19 is posted. This is in association with the interchange reconstruction project. The detour takes motorists southward on Business Loop 19 at Exit 261 to Irvington Road (Exit 98). Photo taken by Eric Harkness (07/01).
Perspective from Interstate 10 east
The next two exits along eastbound Interstate 10 are 22nd Street/29th Street and Silverlake Road/Jct Interstate 19 south (one mile). Photo taken by Eric Harkness (04/02/05).
One mile west of Exit 260/Interstate 19 south before construction began. This stretch of Interstate 10 is heavily traveled with over 150,000 vehicles per day. Photo taken by Eric Harkness (07/01).
The left three lanes continue east on Interstate 10, while the right lane exits only onto southbound Interstate 19. Photo taken by Eric Harkness (04/02/05).
Interstate 19 departs toward Nogales here; eastbound Interstate 10 continues toward Benson. One mile east of Interstate 19 is the northern terminus of Business Loop I-19. This loop of Interstate 19 follows the original U.S. 89 alignment between Tucson southward to Green Valley at Exit 69 of I-19. Interstate 19 remains within the Tucson Metropolitan area for approximately 23 miles. Photo taken by Eric Harkness (04/02/05).
This eastbound Interstate 10 photograph shows some of the road construction in association with the Interstate 19 northern terminus redesign. All permanent guide signs have been removed due to the project as Interstate 10 squeezes through with only four lanes instead of the normal six. The construction sign indicates that Exit 260 departs in 0.25 miles. Photo taken by Andy Field (05/25/03).
A look at the future ramps to Interstate 19 south slightly further east than in the scene in the above photobox. Photo taken by Andy Field (05/25/03).
Access to Interstate 19 south from Interstate 10 eastbound was still in place at the time of this photograph. The westbound ramp to Interstate 19 however was closed at this time. Photo taken by Andy Field (05/25/03).
Perspective from Interstate 10 west
After the Business Loop I-19/6th Street exit, the next exit along westbound Interstate 10 is Exit 260, Junction Interstate 19 south to Nogales and Sonora, Mexico. Photo taken by Eric Harkness (04/02/05).
Westbound Interstate 10 reaches the transition ramp to Exit 260, Junction Interstate 19 south to Nogales. The left three lanes continue straight ahead. Photo taken by Eric Harkness (04/02/05).

Sources:

  1. "Some I-19 metric signs going," by Road Runner Susanna Caņizo, Tucson Arizona Daily Star, January 19, 2004.

Page Updated April 27, 2005.

 
Mileage

State Arizona
Mileage 63.35
Cities Nogales, Tucson
Junctions Interstate 10
Source: October 31, 2002 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
Interstate 19 Annual Average Daily Traffic

State Location AADT Composite Year
Arizona Nogales 5,664 2001
Arizona Green Valley 26,000 2001
Arizona Tucson 62,000 2001
Source: 2001 Arizona Interstate Annual Average Daily Traffic (AZDOT)
Complete Interstate 19 AADT data.

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