Plans for a roadway that would help move traffic from the eastside of downtown Tucson to surrounding destinations, such as the University of Arizona and Fourth Avenue, have been in development since the early 1980s. Since 1989, when the City of Tucson took over the Downtown Links project from ADOT, many concepts, routes and roadway alignments have been considered. The Tucson Mayor and Council have also approved the following plans that support land use, design, transportation and neighborhoods in the downtown area:
- Downtown Land Use Circulation Study (1993)
- Barraza-Aviation General Plan (1996)
- Rio Nuevo Master Plan (2003)
- Tucson Warehouse Arts District Plan (2004)
Funding for the Downtown Links project became available when Pima County voters approved a comprehensive, $2.1 billion Regional Transportation Plan in May 2006. This RTA plan specified the Downtown Links project be a four-lane roadway that will offer improved access to the downtown area and adjacent neighborhoods for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists.