Transit

Feds OK Massive I-11 Freeway to Eventually Connect Phoenix and Vegas

Here's the proposed route of Interstate 11
Here's the proposed route of Interstate 11 Federal Highway Administration
After about five years of study, the Federal Highway Administration approved plans for a new 280-mile long freeway expected to connect Nogales to Wickenburg in Arizona. This decision provides a key interstate link tying Phoenix and Las Vegas.

Now the federal government has to find a way to pay for the multi-billion dollar Interstate 11, the nation's most ambitious new freeway project in a generation.

It's still a long way before construction could potentially begin, the federal government still has one more environmental review to narrow a 2000 foot corridor to the route of the new freeway which would span 400 feet. 

The $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which President Joe Biden signed into law Monday, describes a dozen "high-priority" routes on the national highway system, but makes no mention of I-11.

Environmentalists worry about a new road through hundreds of miles of untouched desert endangering wild animals and contributing to more pollution.


The project would serve as a north-south bypass around central Phoenix. It would run through the Hassayampa Valley about 40 miles west of downtown. That area, mostly virgin desert now, is slated as part of the City of Buckeye's massive growth plans. If those plans reach fruition, the once tiny farming town would rival Phoenix in size and population.

The long-proposed Interstate 11 would enable, and perhaps accelerate, that development.
Here's the proposed route of Interstate 11 - FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION
Here's the proposed route of Interstate 11
Federal Highway Administration

The goal is to entice companies to bring back manufacturing from overseas while fostering a research and development corridor from Mexico to Arizona and Nevada, federal and state officials argue.

It also would serve as a key new trade corridor, with other Mexico-to-Canada routes, such as I-5 and I-25 which are congested.

Growing population, traffic congestion, and economic development were key reasons federal officials decided that the new interstate is needed. Phoenix and Las Vegas have been among the fastest-growing regions in the country.
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Kristen Mosbrucker is a journalist who hails from the Northeast but has spent much of her career over the past decade across the South. She has interviewed everyone from business executives to homeless folks. She's covered business on the Texas-Mexico border in deep South Texas for the McAllen Monitor, technology and the defense industry in San Antonio for American City Business Journals, and the petrochemical industry in Louisiana for The Advocate newspaper. Early in her career, she spearheaded hyperlocal community news coverage for an NPR member station in Philadelphia.