The designation of two high priority Arizona transportation corridors in the five-year transportation bill approved by Congress represents a step forward for the planned Interstate 11 and the Sonoran Corridor in Tucson and the promise of both to boost Arizona’s economy, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.
The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or FAST Act, formally designates Interstate 11 throughout Arizona. It states that the I-11 corridor will generally follow Interstate 19 from Nogales to Tucson, Interstate 10 from Tucson to Phoenix, and US 93 from Wickenburg to the Nevada state line. From there, the Interstate 11 corridor extends north through Nevada, and is designated as an interstate highway north of Las Vegas, through Reno, connecting to Interstate 80.
“Interstate 11 is part of Arizona’s Key Commerce Corridors plan that connects our state to regional and international markets while opening up new opportunities for mobility, job growth and economic competitiveness,” ADOT Director John Halikowski said. “In addition to the formal designation of I-11 and the Sonoran Corridor, having a five-year plan offers the long-term predictability we have been fighting for and helps ADOT better plan, build and sustain a transportation system that improves the quality of life in our growing state.”
Among other provisions related to Arizona, the transportation bill provides for the bundling of bridge projects, meaning ADOT can enhance efficiency by hiring one contractor for multiple repair projects. It also continues funding for Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program grants that help states reduce crashes and hazardous materials incidents involving commercial vehicles.
Interstate 11 received a congressional designation from Phoenix to Las Vegas in 2012 under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act. The FAST Act designation of Interstate 11, along with the Sonoran Corridor in southern Arizona, does not include funding, but makes the corridors eligible to be funded, along with other high-priority corridors throughout the nation.
The designation reinforces ADOT’s overall concept for Interstate 11 in Arizona. As part of its two-year feasibility study completed in 2014, ADOT focused on and supported the concept of an Interstate 11 that runs throughout Arizona, beginning at the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge and ending at the Arizona-Mexico border.
ADOT is beginning work on a Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement covering the area between Nogales and Wickenburg. At the end of this three-year study, a preferred corridor alignment will be chosen, along with a preferred mode of transportation for accommodating future traffic needs from Nogales to Wickenburg.
The Sonoran Corridor will run along the planned State Route 410 in Pima County, connecting I-19 and I-10 by passing south of Tucson International Airport.
At 16 miles, the Sonoran Corridor is expected to shorten the average truck driving time by 20 minutes for shipments moving between Mexico and points to the east and provide an estimated $30,000 in total truck cost savings per day. It will enhance connections with other major interstate highways along with established routes and ports of entry to Mexico, Arizona’s major partner for trade and commerce. These daily time savings add up to tremendous overall savings along these major trade corridors. The Sonoran Corridor will be located within a planned aerospace, defense and technology business and research park.
For more information on Interstate 11, visit www.i11study.com.