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Letter to Chairman Mica and Ranking Member Rahall

Just days after the House of Representatives named conferees to work out the differences between House and Senate-passed transportation bills, Members of the Nevada House delegation sent a letter to Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-FL) and Ranking Member Nick Rahall (D-WV) urging them to include language designating "roadways within the CANAMEX corridor in Arizona and Nevada to be I-11." Such a designation would make I-11 eligible for future federal funding for road construction and improvement projects which would increase economic activity in the region as well as relieve traffic demand on smaller roadways. The designation would also provide a much-needed safe evacuation route for residents in the event of an emergency. Currently, Phoenix and Las Vegas are the only two metropolitan areas of over one million in population not connected by an interstate. All seven Members of the Arizona House delegation signed onto the letter as well.

The delegation letter states, "Besides increasing commerce connectivity across the intermountain west, I-11 could relieve traffic demand on Interstate 5, and congestion in the Phoenix metropolitan area and Boulder City, Nevada, reducing pollution, improving quality of life, and avoiding the substantial economic costs associated with traffic delays."

Background:

The current highway program, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act--A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), expired at the end of FY 2009 and has since been authorized by a series of short-term extensions. On April 18, the House passed H.R. 4348 which extended the authority to appropriate funds from the Highway Trust Fund for federal highway and surface transportation programs for the duration of FY 2012. The Senate passed a transportation bill which appropriated funding for two years at a price tag of $109 billion. With the House and Senate passing different bills, a conference committee, including members of both House and Senate Transportation Committees, must now work out the differences between the two bills and produce legislation that will be approved by both chambers before becoming law. The letter sent by the combined Nevada-Arizona delegation urges inclusion of I-11 designation language in the final conference report.

The full text of the letter is below.

April 27, 2012

Chairman John L. Mica,

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

United States House of Representatives

2165 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515

Ranking Member Nick Rahall,

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

United States House of Representatives

2163 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515

Re: Interstate 11 Designation

Dear Chairman Mica and Ranking Member Rahall,

We, the undersigned members of the Arizona and Nevada Congressional delegations, are writing to urge your support for Interstate 11 (I-11) Designation in the transportation reauthorization Conference Committee on bills H.R. 4348 and S. 1813.

Specifically, we request that the Conference Committee agreement include the Senate-passed language to amend Section 1105(e)(5)(C)(i) of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991, to designate roadways within the CANAMEX corridor in Arizona and Nevada to be I-11.

When the Interstate Highway System was created in the 1950's, no one envisioned the dramatic and sustained growth in the Phoenix, Arizona and Las Vegas, Nevada metropolitan areas and the entire intermountain west. During the last decade, Nevada and Arizona were the two fastest growing states in the country. Phoenix and Las Vegas are the only two metropolitan areas of over one million (1,000,000) in population not connected by an interstate. I-11 designation would represent the critical first step in the long-term plan to finally connect Phoenix and Las Vegas on the Interstate Highway System.

In addition, the project will complete the only missing section of the CANAMEX Corridor that stretches from the southern and northern U.S. borders. The completion of this corridor would provide total commerce connectivity between the United States, Mexico and Canada in the intermountain west, which is vital to the continued economic growth of the region. With increasing port developments in western Mexico and existing congestion on west coast transportation facilities, increased north-south capacity is a high priority and was designated as such in the 1991 Intermodal Surface Transportation Equity Act.

Besides increasing commerce connectivity across the intermountain west, I-11 could relieve traffic demand on Interstate 5, and congestion in the Phoenix metropolitan area and Boulder City, Nevada, reducing pollution, improving quality of life, and avoiding the substantial economic costs associated with traffic delays. The designation of I-11 is also necessary for safe evacuation of the residents in this region in the event of an emergency.

I-11 is supported by the Arizona State Legislature, Arizona Department of Transportation, the Nevada State Legislature, the Nevada Department of Transportation, and a wide range of other local governments, businesses, and stakeholders in both states.

The Arizona and Nevada Departments of Transportation are currently beginning a corridor study from Arizona's border with Mexico to the northern border of Nevada. This study will be the first step towards finalizing the corridor for I-11 and completing the required environmental assessment of the project. The federal designation included in S. 1813 is essential for this process to continue to move forward.

We respectfully ask for your consideration of our request to include the Interstate designation for I-11 in any final legislation agreed to by the Conference Committee. Thank you for your attention to this matter, and please do not hesitate to contact Bobby Cornett of Mr. Franks' staff, who will be coordinating this effort on our behalf.

Sincerely,

Rep. Trent Franks Rep. Joe Heck

Rep. Paul Gosar Rep. Shelley Berkley

Rep. Ben Quayle Rep. Mark Amodei

Rep. Ed Pastor

Rep. David Schweikert

Rep. Jeff Flake

Rep. Raul Grijalva


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