Sunday, May 18, 2014

Times-News: Officials Lobbying for Canada-Mexico Interstate to Run Through South Idaho

Posted By on Sun, May 18, 2014 at 11:46 AM

click to enlarge U.S. 93, in red, runs from Arizona, through Nevada, Idaho and Montana before entering Canada. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • U.S. 93, in red, runs from Arizona, through Nevada, Idaho and Montana before entering Canada.

You won't find Interstate 11 on any map, but it is on the minds of economic development officials from Phoenix to Las Vegas and, now, Twin Falls.

Set to link Mexico and Canada, the only portion of the highway approved by Congress is the corridor between Phoenix and Las Vegas, which was designated in the 2012 federal transportation bill. According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, signs have already gone up on U.S. 93 marking it as the "Future 11 Corridor."

Where the road goes from Las Vegas is up for debate, and the Twin Falls Times-News reports that officials in Southern Idaho are hoping they can convince transportation authorities to route the $20-million-per-mile highway through the Gem State.

Members of the Twin Falls City Council, County Commission and Transportation Committee have drafted a letter of support for extending Interstate 11 up U.S. 93 to where it connects with Interstate 84. From Twin Falls, U.S. 93 runs north along the Craters of the Moon National Park, past Borah Peak and along the Salmon-Challis, Bitterroot and Lolo national forests before reaching Missoula, Mont.

The Times-News  reports that planners are looking at several possible routes north of Las Vegas, including to Reno, then Eugene, Ore., and another to Reno, then Winnemucca, Nev., through Eastern Oregon and on to Portland, Ore.  

Twin Falls officials want to see a third option bring the interstate from Las Vegas to Ely, Nev., then Twin Falls. According to figures from White Pine County commissioners in Nevada, and quoted by the Times-News, that route is more than 300 miles shorter than the Las Vegas-to-Eugene alignment and would save about $6.5 billion.

Despite the enthusiasm, Interstate 11 is a long ways off—though the Phoenix-Las Vegas section was made a federal priority in 2012, construction has yet to begin. Work on the northern portion is almost certainly more than a decade away.

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