The Arizona Department of Transportation is studying the concept of adding a new interstate highway to connect Phoenix with Las Vegas, and Pima County groups say it could be expanded to include a connection with Mexico.

Such a connection could be a boon to economic development in Pima County, said Amber Smith, executive director of the Metropolitan Pima Alliance.

PHOTO: Arizona Department of Transportation
A map of the potential routes for a new Interstate highway connecting Arizona and Nevada.

The MPA is creating a committee of its members to weigh in on the Interstate 11 proposal, as the concept is being called.

“I can’t emphasize enough how important this connection is, especially with the work that we’re already doing with Mexico and the trade,” Smith said.

She said, this is the reason she wants her constituents – planners, engineers, real estate developers and leasing companies – to comment on the proposals.

Many people are concerned about where the proposed rout could be, Smith said. MPA is more interested in making the case for a connection between Mexico and Phoenix than precisely where a southern Arizona route would be constructed, she said.

“The goal is to ensure that we do have that connection between Phoenix and Mexico that also goes through Pima County in some way,” she said.

So far, there isn’t funding identified for a future roadway, but the state transportation department is studying whether such a road is needed.

A draft report justifying the proposed transportation corridor is complete.

According to ADOT, Congress designated the corridor as a future transportation route, but the department must back up claims that it’s necessary in order to begin more intensive, specific planning.