Interstate 11

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Interstate 11 marker

Interstate 11
Route information
Status: Feasibility study phase
Major junctions
South end: I-10 in Casa Grande, AZ
North end: I-15 in Las Vegas, NV
Highway system
  • State Routes in Arizona

Nevada State Routes
I-10 AZ I-15
US 6 NV I-15

Interstate 11 (I-11) is a proposed Interstate Highway, officially designated by the U.S. Congress in the 2012 Surface Transportation Act. The highway route as currently proposed runs from Casa Grande, Arizona northwest to Buckeye, Arizona, thence to Kingman, Arizona, and terminates in Las Vegas, Nevada.[1] This will provide a direct Interstate link between the Las Vegas and Phoenix metropolitan areas.

While Congressionally enacted as cited above, actual Interstate 11 signage is not imminent: the involvement of American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and/or the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)—the agencies normally charged with Interstate Highway numbering and planning—has yet to occur.

The proposed numbering of the highway does not fit within the usual conventions of the existing Interstate Highway grid, as it would be completely east of Interstate 15 and should therefore have a number greater than 15. But Interstate 17 already is built to the east of the I-11 alignment in Arizona, making it impossible to fit this freeway into the national grid without violating the traditional numbering convention, since this is primarily a north-south route that would receive an odd number. However, the designation of Interstate 11 was deemed the best option available. There are corridor studies underway to examine the viability of extending the Interstate north from Las Vegas to the Canadian border,[2] which if constructed would eventually put a majority of I-11 west of I-15 and thus in line with the national grid numbering conventions.

Route description[edit]

The highway would overlap and replace existing I-515 in Las Vegas, U.S. Route 93 (US 93 from Boulder City, Nevada to Kingman, Arizona, I-40 around Kingman and east to the U.S. 93 junction, and then U.S. 93 south to Wickenburg, Arizona. South of Wickenburg, it is likely to follow a new proposed freeway near the Hassayampa River to reach Buckeye (about 40 miles west of Phoenix) near the junction with Arizona State Route 85. From there, the new bill would route Interstate 11 as, in essence, a new bypass around Phoenix, connecting again to Interstate 10 near Casa Grande, Arizona.[3]

Northbound detailed route[edit]

From its beginning near Phoenix to the Santa Maria River, I-11 would mostly follow US 93's alignment, although the proposal for the Hassayampa Freeway by the Maricopa Association of Governments shows the likely I-11 corridor branching off from US 93 west of Wickenburg, bypassing the town. The Hassayampa Freeway is a proposed freeway that would run from Wickenburg to I-10 in Buckeye, about 40 miles (64 km) west of Phoenix.[4]

It crosses the Santa Maria and Big Sandy rivers, as well as Burro Creek. It also passes the hamlet of Nothing. The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) is widening this stretch to four lanes, including a bypass of Wikieup. It would travel northward to I-40. US 93 and I-11 would then overlap with I-40 for about 20 miles (32 km) on the east side of Kingman.

As it enters Kingman, US 93 and I-11 would split away from I-40 as US 93 becomes Beale Street, but Arizona is studying a direct freeway connection for US 93 and Interstate 40.[5] US 93 then passes the towns of Golden Valley, Chloride, Dolan Springs, and White Hills as it goes northwest. It crosses into Lake Mead National Recreation Area and becomes the roughly 4 miles (6.4 km) bypass of Hoover Dam as it enters Nevada.

The 71 miles (114 km) of US 93 south of Hoover Dam is now a four-lane route, from Kingman to the Hoover Dam Bypass. It is not built to interstate highway standards, as there are scattered intersections and substandard roadway widths, medians, and other deficiencies. Part of the dual roadways are repaved, restriped sections of very-old parts of U.S. 93.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has approved the Nevada Department of Transportation's (NDOT) environmental review of a bypass around Boulder City, which would connect the end of the recently constructed Hoover Dam Bypass east of the town at Hoover Dam to Interstate 515 west of town.[6] The first stage of the bypass, which would offer a new connection from I-515 to US 95, began construction in 2012.[7]

Most of I-11's proposed route in the Las Vegas Valley already has been constructed as I-515 from Railroad Pass to Las Vegas, passing through Henderson, Paradise, and Winchester. It would then terminate, along with I-515, at I-15 in downtown Las Vegas.

History[edit]

As recently as 1997, US 93 was mostly a two-lane road between Phoenix and Las Vegas, and was known for its dangerous curves and hills in the stretch between Wickenburg and I-40. In the late 1990s, ADOT began widening US 93 to four lanes, and in some areas building a completely new roadway. In other places along the route, ADOT simply repaved the old highway and built two new lanes parallel to it. ADOT also began studying the possibility of adding grade separations to US 93 near the Santa Maria River to make the road a full freeway.

At the same time Nevada and Arizona began looking at US 93's crossing of Hoover Dam, a major bottleneck for regional commerce, with hairpin turns, multiple crosswalks for pedestrians and steep grades. Plans for a bridge to bypass the dam became even more urgent when the road was closed to trucks after September 11, 2001, forcing commercial traffic to detour through Bullhead City, Arizona, and Laughlin, Nevada.

With the completion of the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge in October 2010,[8] the vast majority of the roadway is now a four-lane divided highway. Still, with Phoenix and Las Vegas being the two largest neighboring cities in the United States not connected by interstate highway, leaders in both cities are lobbying to include I-11 in the next Transportation Equity Act reauthorization. With the rise of the concept of "megapolitan" urban regions, Interstate 11 is considered a key connector to unify the triangle formed by Las Vegas, Phoenix, and the Los Angeles area (the triangle being I-15, I-11 and I-10).[9]

Funding[edit]

The funding bill for the U.S. Department of Transportation, which replaces stopgaps that expired on June 30, 2012, officially designates I-11. This bill was passed by the Senate and the House in June 2012, and was signed by President Barack Obama.

This bill sped up funding for studying, engineering, and possibly building the highway, but it could still take a decade or two to complete. The high price tag makes I-11 in Arizona a leading candidate to become Arizona's first toll road. The legislature passed a law in 2009 that opened the door for private investors to team up with the Arizona Department of Transportation.

In July 2012, Nevada's Transportation Board awarded $2.5 million in contracts to a team of consultants to study I-11's feasibility, and its environmental and economic consequences.[3]

Tucson extension plans[edit]

Officials in Pima County support an extension of the planned I-11 from Casa Grande which would wrap south-west of the Tucson Mountains before meeting with Interstate 19 in Sahuarita, south of Tucson, and continuing east to Interstate 10.[10] The additional segment would create the Tucson bypass route identified as a critical need by the Arizona Department of Transportation based upon Interstate 10 traffic projections.[11] Supporters of the extension cite tremendous economic benefit to the Tucson region.[12][13]

Long-term corridor plans[edit]

I-11 is projected to serve as an "Intermountain West" part of the US's long-term CANAMEX Corridor transportation plans, with potential extensions south from Casa Grande to the Sonoran border, and north from Las Vegas through northern Nevada (potentially passing through Reno or Elko) and onward through either eastern Oregon/Washington or western Idaho before terminating at the Canadian border.[2] Feasibility studies for these corridor extensions are scheduled to begin in July 2013.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Phoenix-to-Vegas interstate included in federal transportation bill". Kingman Daily Miner. June 29, 2012. Retrieved July 1, 2012. (registration required)
  2. ^ a b "Interstate 11 - Project Background". Retrieved January 2, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Holstege, Sean (June 29, 2012). "Bill for Phoenix to Vegas freeway advances". Arizona Republic. 
  4. ^ "Proposed Hassayampa Freeway map". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved November 27, 2011. 
  5. ^ "I-40/US 93 West Kingman Traffic Interchange project". Arizona Department of Transportation. Retrieved November 27, 2011. 
  6. ^ Hansen, Kyle B. (October 25, 2010). "Public meeting set for Boulder City bypass project". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved November 27, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Nevada DOT Boulder Dam Bypass". Nevada Department of Transportation. Retrieved November 27, 2011. [dead link]
  8. ^ "Hoover Dam Bypass: Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge (Colorado River Bridge)" (PDF). CFLHD & HDR. July 13, 2009. Retrieved November 27, 2011. 
  9. ^ Stephens, Josh. "The Last American Superhighway." Next City: Forefront. Oct. 15, 2012 http://nextcity.org/forefront/view/the-last-american-superhighway
  10. ^ Rico, Gabriela (June 30, 2013). "Tucson may see another interstate". Arizona Daily Star. 
  11. ^ "I-10 Phoenix/Tucson Bypass Study". azdot.gov. Arizona Department of Transportation. Retrieved 2013-10-29. 
  12. ^ Ferguson, Joe (July 1, 2013). "Supervisors: I-11 plan faces tall hurdles". Arizona Daily Star. 
  13. ^ Ferguson, Joe (July 31, 2013). "Huckelberry says new highway I-11 key to Pima County's future". Arizona Daily Star. 

External links[edit]