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.
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.
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.