U.S. representatives from Arizona and Nevada are calling on Congress to designate a new Interstate 11 in the pending highway bill. They say I-11 is the missing piece in the Canamex Corridor, an all-interstate trade route from the Arizona border with Mexico through five states to the Montana border with Canada.
The designation for I-11 is currently part of the U.S. Senate’s two-year surface transportation bill, S1813. House and Senate lawmakers are scheduled to begin negotiating a final version of the legislation on May 8.
In a letter to House transportation leaders, 10 lawmakers from Arizona and Nevada are urging their colleagues to include the I-11 designation in the final language.
“The completion of this corridor would provide total commerce connectivity between the United States, Mexico and Canada in the intermountain west, which is vital to the continued economic growth of the region,” the Arizona and Nevada lawmakers wrote.
The Canamex Corridor Coalition was formed as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and the general route was outlined in the 1991 highway bill known as ISTEA. The coalition consists of five states: Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Idaho and Montana, along with the Canadian province of Alberta and the Mexican state of Sonora.
According to the Canamex Corridor Coalition’s website, the corridor extends from Nogales, AZ, to Phoenix, northwest to Las Vegas, picking up I-15 to Salt Lake City, through Idaho Falls, ID, and through Montana to the border with Alberta, Canada.
The portion linking Phoenix and Las Vegas is currently designated as U.S. Route 93, but it would become I-11 if the designation remains in the highway bill.
The letter of support for the designation was addressed to House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica, R-FL, and the committee’s ranking Democrat, Nick Rahall of West Virginia, and dated April 27.
Signing the letter were U.S. Reps. Ben Quale, R-AZ; David Schweikert, R-AZ; Ed Pastor, D-AZ; Jeff Flake, R-AZ; Joe Heck, R-NV; Mark Amodei, R-NV; Paul Gosar, R-AZ; Raul Grizalva, D-AZ; Shelley Berkley, D-NV; and Trent Franks, R-AZ.
Another big piece of the Canamex Corridor puzzle has been the recent completion of the Hoover Dam Bypass along U.S. 93 at the Nevada-Arizona border. That bypass keeps heavy vehicles off the dam while allowing truckers to avoid a lengthy detour. Trucks have not been allowed on the Hoover Dam itself since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.