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Casa Grande and Pinal County residents have put much focus for years on widening of Interstate 10 south of Chandler. Anyone driving on the two lanes in each direction knows why. Progress is being made, and construction on widening is expected to start within two years. Meanwhile, slow progress is being made on planning a new alternate route, I-11, which would be helpful to I-10 traffic and also a big boost to Pinal County.

The Arizona Department of Transportation this month put the final environmental impact statement out for public view. This follows five years of planning, public input and sometimes contentious hearings. While comment is being sought for the next few weeks, funding for the project does not yet exist. However, members of the public having any interest should take the time to offer comments.

The Tier 1 corridor would connect Mexico at Nogales to Wickenburg; north of that, most of the route to the Nevada border already is four lanes. An Arizona I-11 eventually would connect with I-11 in Nevada, which already exists. Advocates see I-11 running all the way up the United States to Canada and being an important route for moving freight.

Plans that have been considered are a mix of a new route and much use of existing routes: I-10 and I-8. Opposition surfaced against carving out a new route west of I-10. A preferred alternative that is a combination of new and old has been identified, but so has a no-build alternative. However I-11 is routed, it would likely pass near Eloy, Casa Grande and Maricopa and be a boon to commerce in western Pinal County.

Information about the study, the status of the project and also how to find hard copies is available at i11study.com/Arizona. This is very interesting and worth looking at and possibly commenting. The I-11 project is very long term in nature, but such things will be important for Pinal residents in the future.

— Donovan Kramer Jr.

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