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  • Supervisors reiterate opposition to proposed Interstate 11 route

    Aug 16, 2021 | Read More News
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    The Pima County Board of Supervisors reiterated its opposition to a proposed route for Interstate 11, a planned highway expansion proposal to connect Nogales to Wickenburg before joining existing highways on route to Nevada.  

    In a resolution passed in a 4-1 vote, with Dist. 4 Supervisor Steve Christy opposed, the board noted the proposed route for the highway through the Avra Valley and Picture Rocks areas could have injurious effects on Sonoran Desert landscapes west of the Tucson Mountains and place new financial pressures on local governments. I-11

    As is noted in the board’s resolution: “a new highway near or through Pima County on any new route, would promote urban sprawl, causing local governments to incur large financial responsibilities for new infrastructure costs, and force major changes to existing county land-use and zoning designations.” 

    The resolution also expressed the board’s concerns over the proposed I-11 west route for its proximity to the Saguaro National Monument, Ironwood Forest National Monument, and Bureau of Reclamation’s Central Arizona Project Canal Mitigation Corridor. The board noted such a highway alignment would likely promote development close to these protected areas. 

    Additionally, the board resolution notes the route would conflict with county floodplain management efforts and the policies established in the county’s Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan if allowed to run through undeveloped and minimally developed areas of desert. 

    The west route of I-11 also would have the effect of diverting traffic from highway-adjacent businesses in the Tucson metro area that rely on revenue from Interstate motorists, the board noted. 

    Rather that construct costly new highways through shrinking Sonoran Desert landscapes, the board resolution proposed “expanding capacity and developing multimodal transportation facilities in existing transportation corridors to sustainably
    accommodate projected increases in freight while providing for much-needed
    passenger rail traffic.”

    The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) recently completed a Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement of the proposed route and other aspects of the I-11 plan as required under the National Environmental Policy Act. The environmental study evaluated numerous alternatives for I-11, settling on two proposed routes. These were the west option through Avra Valley and the east option, essentially an overlay on existing I-19 and I-10 routes. ADOT’s preferred route is the west option. 

    Supervisors first memorialized opposition to the proposed west route of I-11 through a resolution passed in 2007 and restated its opposition in 2017.