Study finds need for I-11 corridor

The Arizona Department of Transportation and Nevada Department of Transportation have worked together for 2 years on the Interstate 11 (I-11) and Intermountain West Corridor Study that includes a possible high-priority Interstate link between Phoenix, Arizona, and Las Vegas, Nevada. The draft report finds that that the project must be completed to keep up with the “region’s rapid population growth and to facilitate global trade.”

The Intermountain West is the geographic region of the western United States located between the Rocky Mountains on the east and the Cascade Range and Sierra Nevada on the west.

The project would convert U.S. 93 into a four-lane divided highway from Las Vegas to Wickenburg, taking advantage of the new Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge. The freeway will eventually head south from Wickenburg into the area west of the Hassayampa River and connect with Interstate 10, about 40 miles from downtown Phoenix. From there, it would loop southwest, through Rainbow Valley, before rejoining I-10 near Casa Grande.

The recently enacted federal transportation legislation called Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) designated I-11 as a future Interstate between Phoenix and Las Vegas.

The purpose of this report was to determine whether sufficient justification exists for a new high-speed transportation corridor.

The study found that there is “currently a lack of sufficient north-south capacity for existing goods movement or any increase in economic activity in Arizona and Nevada.”

Study highlights:

• Current developments in the structure of the North American economy and the role of Mexico in North American manufacturing and trade have the potential to add substantial economic growth and transportation demand to north-south transportation corridors in the region, further exacerbating the congestion described above.

• Economic development initiatives underway by Arizona and Nevada, which are focused on selected cluster targets in aerospace, life sciences, and other high-value manufactured goods, rely on high-quality transportation corridors for mobility of raw materials, finished products, and workers. The success of state economic development initiatives will depend on continuing transportation investment to maintain competitiveness.

• Over the planning horizon of the study, ongoing and established growth trends will result in a significant increase in the portion of the states’ highways reaching unacceptable levels of congestion, posing a significant threat to economic competitiveness.

Currently the project’s biggest opponent is the Sierra Club which objects to an interstate highway through some of the most desolate areas in the country.

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