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Highway officials identify I-11’s preferred Las Vegas route

Updated June 27, 2022 - 10:34 am

After years of studying various options, highway officials have identified the preferred route for Interstate 11 through the Las Vegas Valley.

The central corridor alternative that would utilize U.S. Highway 95 through Clark County was selected as the top choice, the Nevada Department of Transportation announced last week.

The central alternative was chosen over a western corridor alternative that would have used the 215 Beltway from the Henderson Interchange to U.S. 95 in the northwest.

David Bowers, NDOT project manager, noted U.S. 95’s already high traffic volume capacity and a highway improvement project for U.S. 95 through downtown Las Vegas that is slated to begin in 2027. Using the freeway for I-11 will create very little additional traffic impact, he said.

“We evaluated the traffic impacts … and it looks like the volume we’re going to be getting due to the designation of I-11 are not going to be a serious impact,” Bowers said. “So, we’re not going to be doing any widening or any construction of any kind in association with I-11.”

(Severiano del Castillo Galvan/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
(Severiano del Castillo Galvan/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

An eastern option that would have run through the Lake Mead area near the Arizona border was nixed last year for multiple reasons, including the potential impact to sensitive environmental resources and protected areas, financial feasibility and public opposition.

The first 15 miles of I-11 opened to traffic in 2017 and stretches from the Henderson Interchange to the Nevada-Arizona border near the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge. The initial goal of I-11 is to connect the two largest metropolitan areas not linked by a major highway — Las Vegas and Phoenix. The longer term plan is to connect Canada and Mexico with I-11.

NDOT and the Federal Highway Administration have released the draft Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) study report and invite residents to submit feedback to help identify any additional critical issues that should be considered.

Arizona update

As work continues in Nevada, officials in Arizona are also developing their plan for where I-11 will run.

The Arizona Department of Transportation is working on two parts of the I-11 project.

One is the 280-mile section that would run between Nogales and Wickenburg. The final environmental impact statement for the proposed route was completed and approved in November. The proposed corridor would include a mix of new and existing roadways.

The other is a 200-mile stretch from Wickenburg north to the Arizona border, which would use U.S. Highway 93. As I-11 moves closer to reality in Arizona, U.S. 93 would be brought to interstate highway standards.

Signs have marked U.S. 93 in Arizona as the “Future I-11 Corridor” since 2014.

“Over the past 20 years, ADOT has invested more than half a billion dollars to turn the primary route between Phoenix and Las Vegas into a modern four-lane divided highway,” Laura Douglas, ADOT spokeswoman. “ADOT recently applied for a federal grant that would accelerate three widening projects along US 93.”

In addition to those projects, in 2024 ADOT is set to begin construction on a new U.S. 93 interchange with Interstate 40 in Kingman. Douglas noted the interchange is a “critical element” to the future I-11.

“These long-term investments in our highway infrastructure and the diligent work to complete these improvements all serve toward creating an Interstate 11 between two of the largest cities in the country not directly connected by an interstate freeway,” Douglas said.

There is no timetable for when construction on I-11-related projects could begin, as more studies and design are needed to be conducted and funding has yet to be identified.

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter. Send questions and comments to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com.

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