Approximately 75 people attended the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) public information meeting last week to identify the preferred options for the proposed Interstate 11 corridor through southern Arizona. The public meeting was held in the Albert J. Garcia Auditorium on the Pasqua Yaqui Reservation at 7777 S. Camino Huivism.
Interstate 11, as proposed, would connect Phoenix with Las Vegas, Nev., as well as points north to Canada and south to Mexico.
The alternative proposed for the southern Arizona future connectivity segment of I-11 that was recommended for further study is a corridor that follows Interstate 10 from Phoenix to Tucson and then picks up Interstate 19 to Nogales and the Mexican border.
Timothy Tait, an ADOT spokesman, said ADOT personnel reviewed corridor options at the public meeting and provided information on how ADOT is moving forward with its analysis of routes in the study.
“We had a lot of questions about the time line for the project, but there isn’t one,” Tait said. “No funding has been identified yet for I-11, it’s a concept only. Big decisions would have to be made locally for funding and statewide funds would have to be diverted from other needs or the state would have to find another revenue source to fund the project.”
Tait acknowledged that the possibility of a public-private partnership would be one way to increase revenue for I-11 if it became a priority.
“But you have to remember that Arizona has a lot of competing needs around the state for roads and improvement projects,” Tait pointed out. “We’re looking at I-11 as a long-term study. We don’t think it’s something that will happen in the immediate future — at a minimum it is 10 years away, even if all the money needed were to drop on us tomorrow.”
ADOT and the Nevada Department of Transportation have been working together for more than a year on the I-11 and Intermountain West Corridor Study, Tait noted. The study includes detailed corridor planning of a possible high-priority interstate link between Phoenix and the Las Vegas metropolitan areas, along with a high-level vision to extend the corridor north to Canada and south to Mexico.
Tait said the study team has researched a broad range of alternatives along various segments of the corridor, evaluating and screening alternatives based on criteria endorsed by stakeholders to narrow down the number recommended for further analysis.
The meeting at the Pasqua Yacqui auditorium was one of five outreach events that ADOT and Nevada DOT put together for October to generate information from potentially affected communities.
Recently, Tucson mayor Jonathan Rothschild, stated that an interstate link from Phoenix that doesn’t not run through Tucson would be a setback for the city and the region.
Joe Snell, chief executive officer of Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities, is on record endorsing an I-11 corridor through the Tucson region.
The alternative recommended for study through Southern Arizona, I-10 connecting to I-19 to the Mexican border, offers a number of opportunities for the project, according to background information provided by ADOT. Such a route would connect major freight and economic activity centers within the state and in Mexico — Phoenix, Tucson, Hermosillo and Mexico City, ADOT noted.
In addition, the recommended study area encompasses the Mariposa and Deconcini land ports of entry, ADOT said, which have the capability or can be expanded to accommodate expected passenger and freight traffic.