After about five years of study, the Federal Highway Administration approved plans for a new 280-mile highway that is expected to connect Nogales with Wickenburg in Arizona and provide an important interstate connection that connects Phoenix and Las Vegas.
Now the federal government must find a way to pay for the multi-billion dollar Interstate 11, the country’s most ambitious new highway project in a generation.
The $ 1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed by President Joe Biden in law Monday, describes a dozen “high-priority” routes on the national highway system, but does not mention I-11.
Environmentalists are concerned about a new road through hundreds of miles of pristine desert that endangers wildlife and contributes to more pollution.
The project will serve as a north-south bypass around central Phoenix. It would run through the Hassayampa Valley about 40 miles west of downtown. This area, mostly virgin desert now, is planned as part of the city of Buckeye’s massive growth plans. If these plans come true, the once small farming town would compete with 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 production back from abroad while promoting a research and development corridor from Mexico to Arizona and Nevada, federal and state officials claim.
It would also serve as a major new trade corridor with other Mexico-to-Canada routes, such as I-5 and I-25, congested.
Growing population, traffic jams and economic development were the key reasons why federal officials decided the new interstate was needed. Phoenix and Las Vegas have been among the fastest growing regions in the country.