By Troy Wilde
CARSON CITY — Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval is linking a proposed
Interstate Highway from Las Vegas to Phoenix to the 2016 Presidential
election. Sandoval has said that presidential candidates may be judged
by Nevadans on their support for Interstate 11, which would connect
the two cities.
Damon Hodge with the State Department of Transportation said the
highway would likely benefit the regional economy.
“We don’t want congestion on our major Interstates to be a reason why
either state cannot effectively compete for economic opportunities,”
Hodge said his agency, the Arizona Department of Transportation, and
other government agencies are expected to complete the “Interstate 11
and Intermountain West Corridor Study” this summer. It considers
economic, trade and traffic issues, he said, as well as a long-term
possibility that I-11 will start at the U.S.-Mexico border and link to
Reno and, eventually, Canada. The 300-mile drive between Phoenix and
Las Vegas now takes place on two-lane state highways. Hodge pointed
out that even with funding in place, it would be years before
Interstate 11 would open.
“We’ll have to look at the environmental impacts. We’ll have to work
with the cities and counties along whatever route is chosen. There
will certainly be right-of-way issues that we’ll have to deal with. So
there are a lot of questions that will have to be answered, and we
won’t know those for quite some time,” Hodge said.
Phoenix and Las Vegas are the two largest U.S. cites that have no
linking Interstate highway. Hodge said Congress has designated I-11 as
a priority for federal highway planning.