Interstate 11 Public Meetings:  How Much Public Involvement Does ADOT Really Want?

[Sign the petition Against Avra Valley Alignment here]

With the Arizona Department of Transportation’s Interstate 11 study now in its second of three years, skeptics are questioning how much public involvement ADOT really wants?  The National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) process requires public involvement – information, meetings, and comments – for projects such as I-11 to move forward.  First came the Corridor Justification Study, and now the three-year, $15 million, Tier 1 Environmental Impact Study to identify a “preferred alternative” route.

Now in its second year, the upcoming round of public meetings is supposed to gather input about a number of “reasonable alternatives” for the highway.  ADOT says “the alternatives were developed as part of the environmental study based on:  Input from the agency and public scoping meetings held in 2016; Technical analysis; Findings from previous studies; and Public comment through postal mail, email, telephone and the I-11 website.”

However, a review of the comments (available on the i11study.com website) from the 2016 meetings shows overwhelming opposition from hundreds of people to I-11 or to I-11 through the Avra Valley, the route favored publically by Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry.

Opponents cite I-11’s stated intent to send jobs to Mexico as well as the loss of jobs along I-10 and negative impacts on tourism and parks.  The effects of air and noise pollution, along with increased smuggling, on the communities and wildlife of the rural Avra Valley would ruin the area for all time.

Among those leading the opposition are the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection, National Parks Conservation Association, Friends of Ironwood Forest, and the Avra Valley Coalition.  They are calling for a large public turnout to the latest round of meetings despite ADOT’s apparent efforts to limit actual involvement.

Critics point out that there has been little media promotion of the meetings, which start in Tucson May 2, aside from a handful of early small ads that are easily overlooked by newspaper readers.  Materials scheduled to be posted online for review Friday, April 28, actually went up after close of business, with ADOT Community Relations Project Manager Laura Douglas notifying interested parties at 5:46 p.m. by email.

While the posterboards will show three alternative routes in the Tucson area, the two overlapping routes in the Avra Valley are listed as “undergoing additional analysis,” which likely means that they won’t really be discussed at the meetings.  The third alternative, the existing I-10 highway, remains on the table because of public pressure opposing any Avra Valley routes.  ADOT’s own numbers have shown that double-decking just six miles of I-10, from Ruthrauff to I-19, would accomplish their goals at 1/3 the cost.

Both Avra Valley alternatives face a serious problem fitting between the Tohono O’odham Nation’s Garcia Strip and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Wildlife Mitigation Corridor, established when the CAP canal was built to allow wildlife, such as bighorn sheep, to safely cross the valley from mountain range to mountain range.  There is an 80-foot right-of-way between them, with I-11 needing at least 400 feet.  Chuck Huckelberry has proposed using the existing right-of-way as an anchor for an elevated highway in the Mile Wide and Sandario Roads area.  Neither the Bureau of Reclamation nor the Nation has shown any willingness to give up land for I-11..

The scheduled I-11 public meetings are:

  • Tuesday, May 2: Arizona Riverpark Inn, 777 W. Cushing St., Tucson;
  • Wednesday, May 3: Marana Middle School – cafeteria, 11285 W. Grier Road, Marana:
  • Thursday, May 4: Nogales High School – cafeteria, 1905 N. Apache Blvd., Nogales:
  • Wednesday, May 10: Dorothy Powell Senior Adult Center – dining room, 405 E. Sixth St., Casa Grande;
  • Thursday, May 11: Wickenburg Community Center, 160 N. Valentine St., Wickenburg;
  • Tuesday, May 16: Buckeye Community Center – multipurpose room, 201 E. Centre Ave., Buckeye.

[Sign the petition Against Avra Valley Alignment here]

All meetings, which will have an open house format, run from 5 to 7 p.m., with presentations beginning at approximately 5:15 p.m. Following the presentations, study team members will be available to answer questions; i.e. no public discussion, no open forum.

Albert Vetere Lannon

Comments can be made on comment cards at the meetings, or online at i11study.com/Arizona, with a 500 character limit.  Characters include periods, commas, spaces, etc.  Comments can also be sent to:

Email: I-11ADOTStudy@hdrinc.com;

Toll-free bilingual telephone hotline: 1-844-544-8049;

Mail:  Interstate 11 Tier 1 EIS Study Team, c/o ADOT Communications
1655 W. Jackson St., Mail Drop 126F, Phoenix, AZ 85007

7 Comments on "Interstate 11 Public Meetings:  How Much Public Involvement Does ADOT Really Want?"

  1. I hate to say it but whether we want this or not it’s going to happen. The Huckster and ADOT will find a way over the objections of people. Typical and part of the reason I fell the county manager should be an elected position just like the BOS

  2. Richard Hernandez | May 1, 2017 at 9:27 am |

    Chuck could careless that voters said no in bond. He owns Bronson, Elias & Valadez. So what will you get Pima County? Higher taxes , less services.

    No matter what you all do elections have consequences. You choose the three now live with then and Leader of criminal Enterprise Chuck Huckleberry. They have Lawall to protect them and all you get to do is pay pay pay!

  3. What, Again | May 1, 2017 at 10:10 am |

    People like Howard are perfectly content with Tucson being the 5th poorest in the country.

    No growth, no jobs, no future.

  4. Funny the meetings are to see what the public thinks about the proposed path of interstate 11. There is already road work and construction going on West Ajo Road towards Avra Valley. This is in the same direction of the supposed interstate. No one is listening to the people, the money is being spent, and people don’t want it!

  5. Right, we need a major thoroughfare to get the Nogales tomato trucks through Arizona. Yet we can’t even afford to get I-10 to three lanes all the way to Phoenix! This is only a thinly veiled excuse to promote the agenda of the contributors to our elected state government officials. Does anyone think this is cheaper than adding lanes to I-10? And heck, no one from Phoenix ever visits the wonderful pristine nature of Tucson Mountain Park, Saguaro National Monument, The Desert Museum, and the entire Avra valley, so let’s just pave that over and call it progress.

  6. I heard on channel 13 this AM that it is indicated this is a DONE DEAL! Ya think they will listen to anyone without $$. The bought and paid for politicians only answer to the people who tell them what to think and what to do and when to do it, and you thought it was the people who did that. Think again folks.

  7. Bob Noel | May 8, 2017 at 1:48 pm |

    I went to the Nogales May 4th meeting and I was extremely disappointed that they did not want to have a Q&A after their presentation!!! It was because they didn’t want us to voice our opinions out loud and others to hear us! These meetings are complete BS and they only have them because they are required to! They don’t give a Rat’s butt about what the public thinks! When I asked about this Interstate near my residence and it being too close and the noise one of the reps told me they would put up barrier walls????? Who in the heck wants to look at a concrete wall from their patio??? I for one do not and if you ask anyone in Green Valley and along the proposed sites I am sure everyone would say “NO”! Take notice of the trees that ADOT trimmed………. they took out many in the Green Valley area and north towards Tucson but hardly any south of Amado…. why? I was also told (by a Rep)that they are doing no widening of 19 below Amado? Now come on…… if that is where 11 joins 19 what about the traffic jams there???? These Reps and politicians must think that we were born yesterday!!

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