By Eric Jay Toll for The Arizona Builder’s Exchange
Interstate 11 takes another step towards reality with two public hearings moving the Intermountain West Corridor towards conceptual design. Arizona and Nevada departments of transportation hosted the first public session last night in Las Vegas and scheduled a second meeting for October 23rd in Phoenix.
The two meetings kick off Phase II, data collection, for the corridor study. Information gathered is to be compiled into a Business Case Foundation scheduled for a February 2013 release. The phase wraps up with June submitting a justification report to FHwA. Although no design and construction money is incorporated into the current two-year transportation bill, the corridor study objective presents a concept report by the end of July 2014.
The NAFTA-born concept has grown from a 1991 idea for the CANAMEX highway to a full-fledged interstate highway replete with corridor study funding in current transportation bill. Passed by Congress this summer, the two-year surface transportation law earmarked money to Nevada and Arizona to formalize a route in three of the routes segments—Phoenix metro, Northern Arizona, Las Vegas metro—with the Nevada north and Arizona south study areas feasibility assessments starting next July. Extensions through California, Idaho, Oregon or Washington into Canada are not in current planning or funding horizons.
When the interstate highway system was created during the Eisenhower administration, fewer than 500K people lived between the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains. Although I-15 provided a link from Los Angeles to the upper Midwest, no route was envisioned linking the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Time passed, and the Intermountain West became the fastest-growing region in the nation – and the only such region without the dotted lines on a map marking an interstate highway. Now more than 8M people live between the mountains—a population projected to top 10M when the highway breaks ground sometime after 2015.
Read about the meetings at ADOT
Image sources: Arizona and Nevada Departments of Transportation