interstate link: Phoenix to Las Vegas
A plan to link Phoenix to Las Vegas with an interstate highway is being considered right now by transportation leaders in both Nevada and Arizona.
The Interstate 11 proposal is undergoing a two year, $2.5 million study to examine proposed routes, the feasibility of the project and the potential benefits, according to CBS5 out of Phoenix.
The interstate could be constructed by adding lanes and safety features to current roadways, but a firm route has not been identified. It is unlikely that decision would come any time soon.
Because of the lack of funding, no options are being ruled out, including establishing the new link between Phoenix and Las Vegas as a toll road. Tourism leaders in Las Vegas tell CBS 5 that of their 39 million visitors each year, 9 percent of them are from Arizona. Of that number, 56 percent of them drive.
One advocate of the roadway described the current route to get to and from each city, on Route 93, as "basically a death trap."
For now NDOT and ADOT leaders are holding public meetings because the concept is literally in its infancy and all options are on the table.
When we spoke earlier this week with Damon Hodge, public information officer for the Nevada Dept. of Transportation, he said the need for an interstate corridor is there because Las Vegas and Phoenix represent the two largest neighboring cities in the country without an interstate highway connection.
"We're doing a 2-year study on the potential design for a possible corridor linking Phoenix to Los Vegas and perhaps even expanding north to Canada and south to Mexico," Hodge said.
The two cities are linked by US-93 but that is not a road that offers interstate capacity.
(Congress recognized the importance of this corridor in its recent transportation bill (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act- MAP-21).
"Essentially the meetings are intended to alert the public about the steps involved and the process. The study should be complete around July or August of 2014 and then from there that will determine next steps. If the federal government and all the stakeholders agree then we'll try to get things approved, environmental approvals and so on."
"We have no idea how much it will cost or how long it will take to build...we don't even know what we're recommending at this point." And that's ok because the concept is in its infancy.
Hodge also acknowledges that some form of public-private partnership could be a possibility to enable funding. "At this point everything's a possibility."
Although the initial discussions are just about Las Vegas and Phoenix, Hodge says that the possibility to go north to Canada and south to Mexico represents tremendous opportunity in global tourism and global trade.
Hodge says he'll keep us posted... Stay tuned!