Arizona officials and business leaders urge Congress to provide funding for I-11 project

Arizona elected officials and business leaders are voicing support this week for new legislation to advance the development of Interstate 11, a proposed highway route between northwestern Nevada and Arizona’s southern border.

Interstate 11 Coalition executive director Scott Higginson, coalition chairman John Ragan, president David Martin and board member Glenn Hamer, president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, wrote a letter to members of the Arizona congressional delegation — Sens. Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema and Reps. Greg Stanton and Paul Gosar — urging them to consider the bill to advance the I-11 project.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors of The Interstate 11 Coalition we offer our thanks and express our full support for the legislation you have drafted to advance the development of Interstate 11 and bring the resources of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) into the process at such a critical time,” the letter began.

“The development of Interstate 11 is crucial to the economic viability of Arizona and Nevada, as well as the entire Intermountain West,” the letter continued. “Completion of Interstate 11 will enhance the commerce connectivity with Mexico and the growing industrial markets of both states.”

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey wrote a letter to McSally last month also asserting support for expanding Arizona’s transportation infrastructure.

“As one of the fastest-growing states in the nation it is critical that our infrastructure keep pace,” Ducey said. “Arizona has added more than 300,000 new private-sector jobs since 2015, and Arizona exported more than $9.7 billion to Canada and Mexico in 2017 alone. Modernizing our trade routes is important to the continued growth of our state and nation.”

John Halikowski, director of the Arizona Department of Transportation, also wrote a letter to McSally.

“I am writing to express my appreciation for your efforts to acquire additional technical and financial assistance for transportation infrastructure projects in Arizona,” Halikowski wrote.

“As you know, Arizona continues to grow as a destination to live, work and play,” he continued. “Since the end of the Great Recession, Arizona has returned to its prominent place as a leader in job growth and economic opportunity. However, the economic and population growth requires additional transportation options.”

Halikowski said the proposed legislation would recognize that current (Tier I) funding for I-11 should continue while additional financial and technical support will be required from USDOT to begin the Tier II Environmental Review Process, the next necessary step in making I-11 a reality.

“As you know, Arizona’s growth has required us to innovate and use every resource available to provide the safest and most effective transportation system available,” Halikowski said in his letter. “In order to ensure that Arizona does not lose resources for projects in the state’s current transportation plan, it’s critical that the financial assistance provided by the Secretary of Transportation not be reallocated from existing formula funding.”

Ducey reiterated that last point in his letter, calling I-11 a “key route” for trade in Arizona and nationwide.

“Interstate 11 will be a significant improvement to Arizona’s system of high-priority, high-capacity, access-controlled transportation corridors in the state,” Ducey said. “Specifically, Interstate 11 will increase capacity for trade and commerce with Mexico and Canada throughout the Intermountain West and is expected to relieve congestion in downtown Phoenix.”

Graham Bosch

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