CASA GRANDE — In a short time frame, Pinal county has seen major progress on key roadways thanks to the passing of the bipartisan infrastructure bill in Congress and some key announcements on the proposed Interstate 11 route.

Representatives for Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., said the senator had helped secure key language in both the bipartisan infrastructure package and in the fiscal year 2022 Department of Transportation budget bill that would ensure the DOT prioritized both Interstate 10 and I-11.

“There are insufficient interstate highway connections between many large metropolitan areas in the Intermountain West,” language in the latter bill reads. “As these State DOTs continue to carry out pre-construction and environmental planning work on these high-priority projects, the Secretary is directed to provide available technical assistance and financial resources to help complete the planning process for these critical projects.”

Although the I-11 project is still in the earlier planning phases, Kelly’s staff said that language in the DOT budget guarantees “special consideration” for that highway. The Arizona Department of Transportation is hoping to finalize a Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement for the I-11 corridor, including the portion that will run through Pinal County.

ADOT has been finalizing its environmental assessment for the I-10 expansion between Chandler and Casa Grande, which is still the only portion of the highway between Phoenix and Tucson that is two lanes.

That is expected to be completed by the end of the year, and Kelly noted that the infrastructure bill was timed well to begin providing funds just as the planning phase is completed.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes $5 billion in a grant program to fund transportation projects, but also ADOT specifically received an extra $1 billion in federal formula funding over the next five years.

Kelly actually mentioned I-10 in his first Senate floor speech, noting that “a single accident can cause delays for hours, which happens almost every day,” and that “Arizona will benefit from upgrading and modernizing our infrastructure.”

The senator wrote an opinion piece published in PinalCentral earlier this week, detailing how the infrastructure bill will help the county overall with both roadway expansions and water resources. That column can be found here.

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Aaron Dorman is the Casa Grande reporter at PinalCentral, covering government, schools, business and more. He can be reached at adorman@pinalcentral.com.

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