LAS VEGAS -
Progress continues to be made on a study investigating a potential new
interstate highway corridor linking Phoenix and Las Vegas. The corridor, named
Interstate 11, is an economic development strategy that could dramatically
improve opportunities to expand travel, trade and tourism in the western United
States.The I-11 & Intermountain West Corridor Study, led by the Nevada
(NDOT) and Arizona (ADOT) transportation departments, is a two-year,
multiphase, high-level study examining the benefits, feasibility, opportunities
and constraints of the proposed new interstate highway corridor.
study is completed in mid-2014, a final Corridor Concept Report will outline
the feasibility of the interstate highway and define the next steps for the
project, including a vision for extending the I-11 corridor north to Canada and
south to Mexico. Ultimately, the study will justify whether or not the I-11
Corridor is a necessary addition to the nation's interstate highway system that
should be pursued in the future. Today's study expands the original 1990s
CANAMEX concept into a broad-based transportation solution that has the backing
of federal, state and local governments.
Benefits of the Proposed
The I-11 Corridor is more than simply a proposed
high-speed highway linking Phoenix and Las Vegas. It has the potential to
redefine transportation and commerce in the western United States by:
- Connecting metropolitan areas, trade hubs and deep-water ports;
- Placing Nevada and Arizona at the crossroads of emerging transcontinental
commerce, trade and tourism routes between Mexico and Canada, and across the
- Providing an alternative freight corridor to congested
existing north-south highway corridors like I-5 and I-15;
infrastructure needed to respond to "nearshoring" - the manufacture of goods
within North America instead of Southeast Asia;
- Incorporating "smart"
transportation technology, freight rail, passenger rail, public transportation
and utility transmission lines;
- Creating jobs: $1 billion in
infrastructure = 30,000 jobs.
In August 2012, Phase I of the study was completed. A Corridor
Vision Summary outlined previous transportation planning efforts, and set the
foundation for the subsequent study phases and public communication program.
The new interstate highway corridor study received support from the highest
levels. In June 2012, Congress passed a transportation reauthorization bill -
"Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act" (MAP-21) - in which I-11
was formally designated as a part of the interstate highway system. Closer to
home, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer proclaimed the development of the interstate
corridor is one the state's long-term goals and the Nevada Legislature adopted
a resolution in support of I-11.
Influential organizations are putting
their weight behind the corridor study. The I-11 Coalition is a nonprofit group
of private citizens and civic leaders from Nevada and Arizona promoting the
corridor concept throughout the region. The Transportation and Trade Corridor
Alliance (TTCA), a partnership between ADOT, the Arizona-Mexico Commission and
the Arizona Commerce Authority, is looking at changes in international trade
patterns. The I-11 Corridor could provide a critical transportation linkage in
potential economic scenarios created by improvements to the Panama Canal,
increased trade with Latin America and additional Mexican port capacity. NDOT
and ADOT are actively interacting with citizens and stakeholders to collect
input and opinions on the project. Since the study was initiated in September
2012, more than 200 community members in Nevada and Arizona have expressed
their opinions through the public meeting process, and almost 300 stakeholders
representing 160 agencies and organizations are actively engaged in the study.
Stakeholder subject matter experts formed focus groups to tackle seven key
study topics, from which several consistent thoughts emerged:
Competition: The I-11 Corridor can improve the economic competitiveness of
Nevada and Arizona by placing the region at the crossroads of intercontinental
trade routes from Mexico, Canada and the West Coast.
- Nearshoring: This
trend - the manufacturing of goods near the region in which they are marketed -
will require the additional trade routes created by the I-11 Corridor.
- Multimodal Use: One corridor can serve as the route for highway, rail lines
and utility lines, all contained in one strip of land to reduce environmental
- Smart Technologies: A new interstate highway would provide the
platform for emerging transportation technologies and state-of-the-art safety
- Funding: The largest challenge to implementation will be
funding and financing.
- Developing private-public partnerships may be
necessary, and federal funding opportunities may increase if there is
significant support from a variety of agencies and partners.
planning may provide opportunities for new/alternate funding streams.
- Potential funding sources could include fee-based HOV lanes and tolls.
By mid-2013, Phase II of the
I-11 & Intermountain West Corridor Study will create a Corridor
Justification Report to outline the characteristics affecting the corridor -
such as population, employment, economic diversity, freight movement - that will
be needed to evaluate the location and type of an enhanced transportation
facility. In addition to using accepted projections about the future,
alternative scenarios will be developed that describe probable trends that
could affect the region, and that may influence the need for I-11.
Through the second half of 2013 and early 2014, an alternative analysis will
be conducted of possible alignments and modes. The study is on track to be
completed in mid-2014, with the final Corridor Concept Report wrapping up the
study effort by stating the ultimate purpose and need, recommending potential
corridor segment routes and outlining project implementation requirements.
Whether the I-11 Corridor project moves forward depends on the study results.
If the interstate highway corridor can be properly justified and has a sound
business case for further development, the project's next stages include the
required environmental and engineering studies. NDOT and ADOT already have a
jump start on the environmental approval process in preparation for the
Environmental Impact Statement.
A critical step prior to the
Environmental Impact Statement is the identification of reliable funding
sources. This will require dedicated support from the region and the states at
both the governmental and private-sector levels. The I-11 Coalition, joined by
government officials, and transportation and trade industry leaders, are out
front making the public and private connections necessary to generate future
funding sources. Although U.S. 93 between Phoenix and Las Vegas has been
designated as the future I-11 corridor under MAP-21, no specific routes have
been drawn and no final decisions have been made. What is certain is that the
I-11 route will utilize the Mike O'Callaghan - Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, a
structure designed to interstate highway standards and completed in 2010 to
bypass Hoover Dam.