By Kevin Reagan for Casa Grande Dispatch
The Arizona Department of Transportation appears no closer to deciphering where the proposed Interstate 11 might go in between Wickenburg and Nogales as it asks the public for input on areas to avoid in construction.
ADOT staff members were in Casa Grande to hold a public meeting with residents. The agency was “scoping” attendees for comments and input to include in its three-year environmental impact study on the I-11 project.
Jay Van Echo, project manager of I-11, said this scoping period is important for guiding staff members on hazardous areas they might not know about along the 280-mile stretch ADOT is studying to build the proposed freeway.
This study corridor starts north of Wickenburg, descends down through Buckeye, curves under Maricopa and Casa Grande, snakes around the Tohono O’odham Nation and meets up with Interstate 19 to end at the U.S.-Mexico border.
In between are a number of obstacles such as tribal land and federally owned wilderness areas that the design team will have to find a way to work around.
That’s the purpose of the Environmental Impact Study (EIS), Van Echo said, it’s meant to find the best 2,000-foot-wide corridor within the study area that best mitigates potential social, economic and environmental issues. The option to not build anything at all will still be explored during the three-year process.
Another goal of the project, according to ADOT, is to “provide enhanced transportation opportunities for economic vitality” by extending the freeway beyond Wickenburg up to Las Vegas.
The Nevada Department of Transportation broke ground last year on Phase 1 of its piece of the I-11 project, which includes constructing a 2.5-mile freeway that starts south of Boulder City. NDOT expects that to be completed by 2018.
Once the first EIS is completed, another study by ADOT will be conducted to examine environmental impacts in greater detail within the corridor selected in the first study.
ADOT will host five more public meetings later this month in Buckeye, Nogales, Tucson, Marana and Wickenburg.
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