Unfunded I-11 Route Announced For Connecting Nogales To Nevada And Possibly Beyond

Unfunded I-11 Route Announced For Connecting Nogales To Nevada And Possibly Beyond

By Terri Jo Neff |

Some business leaders have dreamt for years of an interstate that would traverse Arizona, providing a better connection for international trade through Nogales to Phoenix and Las Vegas, and in the process providing a north-south route between Canada and Mexico.

Las Vegas and Phoenix are the only two cities with population of more than 1 million residents which are not linked by a direct interstate route. That dream of new opportunities for trade, commerce, job growth, and economic competitiveness took a leap forward Tuesday when the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) announced its preferred route for the state’s portion of Interstate 11 as it would be known.

Officially called the “Record of Decision and Final Preliminary Section 4(f) Evaluation,” the report released Nov. 16 was prepared by ADOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act. It represents the final step in the Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement process, culminating five years of study, technical analysis, and stakeholder input.

The Record of Decision also includes proposed corridor, or route, for the 280 miles of I-11 that would run between Nogales and Wickenburg utilizing new and existing roadways. Another 200 miles of what is currently U.S. Highway 93 from Wickenburg to the Arizona / Nevada state line where 23 miles of I-11 begin its run in Nevada would also become part of I-11 after a series of upgrades. That section is not part of the Record of Decision. 

The idea of a Canada to Mexico transportation route which would connect the two largest cities in Arizona and Nevada dates back 25 years. However, it was not until 2015 that Congress formally designated I-11 as an interstate highway in Arizona, although the designation came with no funding for design or construction.

Deciding where the new interstate would be located has presented a years-long challenge for ADOT and FHWA. While the route between Phoenix to Wickenburg was delineated early, there have been two potential routes considered for the Phoenix to Nogales segment. That was further narrowed down to utilizing I-10 from Phoenix for several miles until just north of Marana.

The Tier 1 environmental impact review then looked at two alternatives for reaching Nogales. One of those options took an easterly route by utilizing existing roadways of I-10 to I-19 to State Route 189. 

A westerly option, which is the one recommended by ADOT and approved this week by FHWA, would require construction of a new roadway through Avra Valley and then down near Three Points before merging into I-19 in Sahuarita. More than 60 percent of the land near that route is currently vacant.

Previous concerns voiced by stakeholders in the Sahuarita area led to an adjustment of the westerly route before it was recommended this week. The town of Sahuarita has even designated more than 90 acres of vacant land that could be utilized for the merging of I-11 with I-19.

But the I-11 project in Arizona is a long way from ever breaking ground, if it even gets that far. The Tier 1 report released this week with its westerly option recommendation is only the beginning. Additional studies would be necessary, including a Tier 2 environmental review.

“It is during the Tier 2 process that the Selected Corridor Alternative would be narrowed to a maximum 400-foot-wide highway alignment, or route,” according to ADOT. “Based on need and purpose, these segments would focus on smaller and shorter sections of I-11 and not the entire 280-mile corridor.”

And as with the recent announcement of a preferred alternative route for theSonoran Corridor connecting Interstate 10 to Interstate 19, the I-11 project is unfunded.

“Currently there are no plans or funding available to initiate these Tier 2 studies,” ADOT confirmed.

Less than 23 miles of I-11 have been competed in Nevada, running from the Hoover Dam Bypass at the Arizona state line to Henderson, Nevada.  The CEO of the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce has called completion of I-11 one of the most critical projects for the Intermountain Western states.

For more information about I-11 and the Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement, visit i11study.com/Arizona.

Natural Resource Committee Members Urge Biden “To Stop Selling American Mining Jobs To Foreign Nations”

Natural Resource Committee Members Urge Biden “To Stop Selling American Mining Jobs To Foreign Nations”

Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar joined his fellow Republican members of the Natural Resources Committee in urging President Biden to support American mining jobs. Gosar, Committee Ranking Member Bruce Westerman and other members of the Committee sent a letter to Biden calling on his administration to “stop selling out those mining jobs to Canada.

According to the Committee members, the Biden Administration has started an effort to meet with representatives from Canadian mining companies to arrange for Canadian mining to displace new American mines in the supply chain for critical minerals and new renewable technology manufacturing. The reports on the meetings highlighted “more-than 30 attendees at Thursday’s meeting who discussed ways Washington can help U.S. companies expand in Canada and overcome logistical challenges, according to the documents.” Additionally, an attendee at the meeting noted that the Commerce Department had not indicated whether they would provide monetary incentives to Canadian players in the mining sector, or to other companies in the supply chain.

Earlier this month, Rep. Gosar wrote an op-ed that highlighted this issue and the importance of critical minerals.

“It is unacceptable that this Administration is bartering the jobs of American miners, steelworkers, and laborers to Canada to make up for a decision it made killing thousands of American pipefitting and welding jobs. American miners and American mineral security should not be used as a trading tool to make up for Mr. Biden’s disastrous foreign policy decisions. The Biden Administration, beholden to radical environmentalists, is shutting down domestic mining while holding secret meetings with Canadian mining companies about opening new mines in Canada,” said Gosar.

“Meanwhile, House Natural Resource Committee Democrats are attempting to undo a bipartisan, bicameral agreement to develop one of the largest copper and tellurium mines in the United States. Our nation has been blessed with tremendous resources, the strongest environmental protections and the best workforce. The Biden Administration and House Democrats should support these good jobs, not pass along those benefits to foreign nations,” argued Gosar.

That this Administration, through the Department of Commerce, is working to trade the jobs of American miners, steelworkers, and laborers to Canada to make up for a decision you made that killed thousands of American pipefitting and welding jobs and tens of thousands of Canadian oil and gas jobs is unacceptable. American miners and American mineral security should not be used as tools to be traded away to make up for your disastrous foreign policy decisions. American mining and smelting jobs are some of the highest paying jobs in our nation and your Administration should be fighting to create more of these jobs domestically, not using taxpayer resources to encourage Canada to steal our jobs and the opportunity they present to America. It makes no sense to actively kill mining jobs in Minnesota, Arizona, and Alaska while turning to Canada and asking them to open mines to fill the gaps. READ THE FULL LETTER HERE

“America leads the world in clean, safe mining. We should keep it that way. While our Democrat colleagues attempt to ban, prohibit and regulate the mining and energy industries into oblivion, we want to incentivize new innovation and more jobs right here at home. There’s no reason to outsource our mining needs overseas, where we have no control over environmental standards. American workers deserve better,” said Westerman.

“President Biden supports Canadians mining just miles from my district and in our very same watershed. Why are Canadians allowed to have high-wage, high-quality jobs, but Democrats oppose jobs within our borders? We have America’s domestic mineral needs in Minnesota, Arizona, and throughout the country. Let’s do it here with our workers earning high wages for their families and providing funding to our schools and communities,” said Rep. Pete Stauber.

Rep. Lauren Boebert stated, “I’m disappointed but not surprised at the Biden administration’s efforts to destroy America’s mining industry. Biden’s America last policies take jobs away from American workers, hurt rural communities, and decimate our economy while strengthening China’s. The Green New Deal and Biden’s environmental schemes would require a large amount of mining and minerals. Democrats have repeatedly made clear they would rather have children mining with their bare hands in the Congo and other countries than good and safe jobs in America.”

“The Administration policy to increase demand for minerals and then export the mining jobs needed to produce those minerals is another example of President Biden snubbing America’s working families, trashing the global environment and decreasing energy security. In order to power America’s clean energy future, we must fully utilize our own domestic supply of critical minerals and put Americans to work to do so. Our national security and economic prosperity depend on us advancing smart policies that promote American labor and American resources, not increasing U.S. reliance on foreign adversaries with abysmal environmental records – like China – for such vital resources,” said Rep. Garret Graves.