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Governor Sandoval: Interstate 11 Support May Be Presidential Campaign Issue

PHOTO: Governor Brian Sandoval says Nevadans may judge future presidential candidates may be judged by their support for building an Interstate Highway between Las Vegas and Phoenix. Photo courtesy of the Nevada Department of Transportation.
PHOTO: Governor Brian Sandoval says Nevadans may judge future presidential candidates may be judged by their support for building an Interstate Highway between Las Vegas and Phoenix. Photo courtesy of the Nevada Department of Transportation.
March 3, 2014

CARSON CITY, Nev. - 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.

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.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NV