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Planning for Interstate 11, which could connect Pinal County to Las Vegas and destinations much farther, has continued for several years. In these days when infrastructure funding is often lacking, such a project sometimes seems to be fantasy, yet it makes sense and very well could happen. A stretch of I-11 actually exists in Nevada, about 23 miles from the Arizona state line to Henderson.

The Arizona Department of Transportation has been proceeding meticulously, and as part of the process, it has been taking public comments. Some of those recently came in the form of criticism from some residents of the Hidden Valley and Thunderbird Farms areas south and west of Maricopa who do not want the intrusion on their peaceful desert setting.

While I-11 is projected to follow some existing routes, including I-19, I-10 and U.S. 93, part of it likely would be on a new corridor. This potentially involves western Pinal County and would be a boon to Casa Grande and Maricopa. It also would provide one of the major benefits of I-11: bypassing the congestion of metro Phoenix. However, siting new transportation routes is more difficult than it used to be, and some residents would be displaced or offended.

One proposal that ADOT does not favor follows State Route 85. It has the advantage of avoiding addition of new right of way there, but planners have cited the fact that the route already is not popular with drivers. While a western Pinal route would be somewhat disruptive, it also would benefit the county’s economy.

Beyond Arizona, the route has been touted as a connection to Mexico and Canada, and that is important. Pinal County could be a vital part of that link.

Area city and county officials have followed the process closely and remain involved because of its importance. Citizens should do the same, participating and letting their views be known at meetings and online. I-11 is likely to be important to Arizona and Pinal in future years.

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