Congressional delegation to jump-start Interstate 11’s Nevada stretch
WASHINGTON – With the proposed Interstate 11 connecting Southern Nevada and Phoenix on a path to reality, Nevada leaders are setting their sights on the next stretch, north from Las Vegas.
Sens. Dean Heller and Harry Reid are looking to insert wording into an upcoming federal highway bill that would designate an Interstate 11 corridor through Northern Nevada. While studies still are ongoing and substantive work might be a decade or more out, favorable mention in the bill would effectively plant an early flag for a project that must compete for billions in federal dollars.
At a Senate hearing Wednesday, Heller asked Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx for his support.
“What we are trying to do is increase trade, create jobs and improve our economy,” said Heller, who noted census projections show the Mountain West growing 28.5 percent by 2030 and traffic expected to soar.
“We probably bring in double what we produce in the state of Nevada,” Heller said. “Obviously the availability to move freight will determine what world-class experience we offer in Nevada.”
Foxx’s response was encouraging, though he didn’t say he would support specific wording in the bill.
“The types of challenges you describe in Nevada are challenges we see all over the country,” he said. The Transportation Secretary said he would direct officials with the Federal Highway Administration to work with the state.
Heller made a similar pitch last week in a letter to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which is working through the summer on re-authorization of highway and mass transit programs. Reid, the Senate majority leader, has arranged with committee chairman Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., to place an I-11 provision in the bill, said his spokeswoman, Kristen Orthman. Both Reid and Heller said it is too early to draft specific language as state officials have yet to select possible routes.
Las Vegas Review-Journal