I-11 is intended to be a new high-capacity, multimodal transportation facility connecting the metropolitan areas of Las Vegas and Phoenix. If extended north of Las Vegas and south of Phoenix, this facility has the potential to become a major north-south transcontinental corridor through the Intermountain West. The Corridor is proposed to include an upgraded highway facility, but could be paired with rail and other major infrastructure components—such as energy and telecommunications—to serve the nation’s needs from Mexico to Canada. There are a number of potential benefits, including:
- Connecting communities, major trade hubs, existing and future domestic and international deepwater ports, and intersecting transcontinental roadways and railroad corridors.
- Enhancing the economic vitality of communities connected and served by the Corridor.
- Improving safety and travel time reliability for the movement of people and goods throughout the Intermountain West.
- Providing relief for congested north-south corridors in the Western United States, such as I-5 and I-15.
- Enhancing commercial opportunities by linking trade between Mexico and the Intermountain West.
- Increasing the global competitiveness of the region.
The Vision Began Years Ago…
The concept of an access controlled, high-capacity transportation facility connecting Phoenix and Las Vegas (with connections further north and south) has been around for decades, initiating with the CANAMEX corridor discussions in 1991. An approach for comprehensive corridor implementation was furthered by the Maricopa Association of Governments as a bypass route around the western and southern edges of metropolitan Phoenix, and further conceptualized through statewide planning efforts by ADOT to extend outside the state of Arizona. Nevada has been an equal partner with Arizona since the early 1990s, planning for a regional corridor with improved access between Las Vegas and Phoenix and a potential northern extension to Reno – creating a better connected Intermountain West with greater economic opportunities. Both states have already implemented various planning, design and construction projects for potential corridor components, with the most notable being the completion of the Hoover Dam Bypass and Mike O’Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge.
Developing a new north-south trade corridor through Nevada and Arizona could supplement the existing system and relieve freight congestion on I-5, one of only two (including I-15) continuous north-south Mexico-to-Canada interstate routes west of Texas. The CANAMEX corridor, established under the North American Free Trade Agreement, has been designated as such a parallel route, spanning the Western United States between Mexico and Canada through the states of Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Idaho and Montana. However, the CANAMEX corridor is composed of a myriad of existing Interstate corridors and state highways, and is not a continuous route due to a gap in the designation between I-10 and US 93. Implementation of the Corridor can fill this gap – allowing significant commerce, tourism and international trade opportunities across the Western United States.
For study purposes, the Corridor is divided into five segments: three high priority segments between (and including) the Las Vegas and Phoenix metropolitan areas, and two high-level visioning segments for possible future extensions from Las Vegas to Canada, and from Phoenix to Mexico.
The Corridor Vision Summary is part of the first phase of the study and establishes the basis for the project.
The second phase will include the Corridor Justification Report, in which the preliminary purpose and need for the Corridor will be developed, existing and future conditions reviewed, and the economic context for the Corridor established. One unique element of this project is the development of a Corridor Business Case to help determine the benefits and costs of the proposed Corridor, and to identify possible funding scenarios and planning options for bringing it to fruition.
The third phase, Corridor Concept Development, will lead to the project’s recommendations. Alternatives will be developed and evaluated for the separate Corridor segments, the Corridor’s final purpose and need will be developed, the business case finalized, and implementation requirements outlined.
Preliminary Corridor Vision
By comparison with the Eastern United States, the West has seen little addition of Interstate routes since the Interstate Highway System was established in 1956. Population and employment growth in the West has generally outpaced growth in Eastern states, and the demand for travel along the Western Interstate corridors has grown. Specifically, the Intermountain West is confronted with a rapidly growing population, expanding global trade, and aging transportation infrastructure that is reaching capacity. Therefore, the solutions must be innovative, cost-effective, and most importantly, confront our 21st century transportation needs.
Serving the nation’s north-south transportation needs from Mexico to Canada, the proposed Intermountain West Corridor will provide a vital connection between Phoenix and Las Vegas, two large metropolitan areas not currently connected by an Interstate highway. It is also envisioned to promote possible freight linkages between the new and expanding ports in Mexico and Canada, existing United States West Coast ports, and future inland ports and commerce centers crucial to distributing goods across North America. These linkages could stimulate the development of new crossroads, spurring community and economic development opportunities spanning the entire Corridor. Effective inclusion of infrastructure elements that form the building blocks for growth and expansion – power, telecommunication, freight rail, and potentially passenger rail – could serve as the foundation of a stronger and more diversified economy for the Intermountain West.
Early in this study process, stakeholder input will be actively sought after to determine a universal mission for the project, as well as a series of values, goals and objectives. Moving forward, decisions will support these goals and objectives, and be made in a manner that is inclusive of community values and input.