Construction underway on first segment of Interstate 11


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May 22, 2015, 1:54pm MST Updated May 26, 2015, 7:20am MST

Eric Jay Toll Reporter Phoenix Business Journal

The first segment of Interstate 11 is under construction on the north side of the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge over the Colorado River at Boulder City, Nevada.

The $318 million, 15-mile segment of divided highway will bypass Boulder City and connect with U.S. 93 near Henderson, Nevada. The Nevada Department of Transportation broke ground on two segments: a 2.5-mile portion bypassing Boulder City for $83 million; and a $235 million, 12.5-mile segment funded by the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada.

The project is the first new freeway mileage to be added to the nation’s 47,900-mile interstate highway system since 1992. I-11 is to be constructed from Nogales to either Seattle or Calgary, Alberta.

Representatives of the I-11 Coalition said that Boxer told them in a Washington D.C. meeting that she sees I-11 as important because of its potential to help interstate and international trade, and provide traffic relief from perpetually congested Interstate 5. That freeway runs from San Diego to the Canadian border, but also runs through the middle of Los Angeles, Sacramento, Portland and Seattle.

The last round of federal transportation funding included extending I-11 north of Las Vegas to either Interstate 80 at Reno or to the Idaho border. Nevada DOT is working on the route alignments for that segment.

Arizona’s planning process trails Nevada by several years because NDOT started its segment planning as part of its U.S. 93 improvements around Boulder. When I-11 was officially put on the map by the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2012, with Arizona and Nevada Departments of Transportation working together on a corridor study. That phase was completed in 2014.

The Arizona segment of I-11 will run from the Nevada to Mexican borders. The route generally follows U.S. 93, but a deeper ongoing study will determine the route through the Phoenix metro and the connection between Wickenburg and Nogales. This study will be a $15 million Tier 1 environmental impact statement that starts before year-end and will take about three years to complete.

An ADOT spokeswoman said in a statement that there is no immediate funding for Interstate 11 in Arizona beyond the $15 million for the Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement. Throughout this process, the spokeswoman said, ADOT continues to work with partner agencies and stakeholders to develop innovative funding solutions. The goal is to construct I-11 as soon as possible.

ADOT needs a new funding approach because the typical mechanism — gas tax, vehicle license fees and federal grants — are inadequate to meet current and future transportation funding requirements.



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