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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Much effort needed to move I-11 from concept to reality

By John S. Halikowski, Director
Arizona Department of Transportation

ADOT Director John S. Halikowski I have heard that there are people in Southern Arizona who believe ADOT is “prioritizing” efforts to study the Phoenix to Las Vegas Interstate 11 corridor over potential corridor links in Southern Arizona to Mexico. Anyone assuming that “Southern Arizona is off the table regarding I-11” is just plain wrong. ADOT has taken a holistic approach to studying both the congressionally designated segment and the critical link to the international border as part of the I-11 and Intermountain West Corridor Study. Both segments are equally worthy of study to determine their importance to Arizona’s economic future.

Although Congress designated the Phoenix vicinity to Las Vegas segment as “I-11,” this designation in no way diminishes the need to study critical commerce links to Mexico via the Intermountain West corridor. With that in mind, the Preliminary Environmental Linkage (PEL) study for both I-11 and the Intermountain West Corridor is moving forward to completion this summer and will serve as the foundation for a full, international border to Nevada state line environmental impact statement (EIS), pending available funding. During my recent congressional visit, I discussed the issue of expanding the I-11 designation and the need to fund an EIS to seamlessly continue and build on the work of the PEL study. I would urge other interested Arizonans to work together to do the same.

Ever since Congress designated the high priority CANAMEX Corridor in the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991, the idea of a commerce corridor linking Mexico to Arizona’s economic centers and Nevada has been discussed in Arizona. In 2014, the focus remains the same. Given the border-to-border focus of the PEL study, ADOT has held numerous meetings with stakeholders, planners, elected officials and members of the public in Pima County to obtain input on the corridor concept and where the links to Mexico could possibly be routed through Southern Arizona. Within just the past year, the study team held stakeholder partner meetings in the Tucson area in July, August and October with two more opportunities for involvement scheduled for March and May this year. A public meeting was held last October. Several additional meetings have also been held directly with the Pima Association of Governments, elected officials and the business community in Southern Arizona.

In the future, ADOT plans to continue working with all stakeholders, local governments, elected officials and planning organizations. We need to work together to develop a plan to fund the EIS, since ADOT alone does not have the resources to fund a study of this magnitude. Finally, I encourage everyone to keep providing comments via the study website at www.i11study.com. Members of the public are encouraged to review the latest materials posted on the website and leave their feedback online.

Linking economic centers via a robust transportation infrastructure network is an investment in Arizona’s future as we work to boost trade, commerce, job growth and economic development. With all of us working together, we will reach our destination on the road ahead.
Posted by Angela DeWelles   |  Labels:  I-11
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