Interstate 11 Could Be a Big Deal for Pinal County

by Tim Kanavel, Program Manager, Pinal County Economic Development

One of the things I like to tout to companies when they are looking at either building or relocating to Pinal County is our transportation infrastructure.

Look at it like this, by freeway, we are:

  • 419 miles to Los Angeles
  • 348 miles to San Diego
  • 388 miles to El Paso
  • 43 miles from Sky Harbor International Airport
  • 79 miles to Tucson International Airport

Interstates 8 and 10 serve us very well.

By rail, Casa Grande is served by Union Pacific Railroad. Your freight can be hauled straight to the West and East Coast within days, if not hours.
Sky Harbor and Tucson International have multiple nonstops to destinations where vacationers or business executives need to go.
When companies see this, they are impressed at the ease they can get to places from Pinal County.

I forgot to mention that Las Vegas is only 348 miles away. But the big difference here is that it’s not easy to get there by car. Driving through Phoenix can be tough, especially during rush hour. Then you have to make it to Wickenburg, after that you have Kingman, Hoover Dam and then Las Vegas.

But there may be some relief down the road.

The proposed Interstate 11 would be a huge factor in bringing in even more commerce through Pinal County. Interstate 11 would bypass Phoenix, giving us unfettered access to markets to the north, Las Vegas, Reno, Boise, Spokane and Canada. It would also take a lot of the commerce off Interstate 10, making it easier for you and me to drive to the Valley to catch a Diamondbacks game.

Right now there is a study going on that is called a Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement. This is a 2,000-foot corridor being evaluated to see if building such a road is feasible. Now, I know you are thinking that 2,000 feet is a wide corridor for such a road, and you would be right. Once the freeway alignment is finalized by a Tier 2 Environmental Impact Study, the corridor will drop to 400 feet.

There is a long way to go before we even move a saguaro for construction.

Currently, there is a search for a funding source (in plain English — money) to even start a Tier 2 study. But the Tier 1 study has shown us that there is definitely a need for high-capacity roadways in the west-central part of Pinal County. This wouldn’t be completely built at one time. A project like this cost billions upon billions of dollars. The road would be built in segments once the money becomes available.

Let’s look at some more positives for the proposed Interstate 11:

  • Improves our chances of bringing in even larger companies to the area.
  • Freight would be easily moved to various markets to the north and south of us.
  • Bypasses Interstate 10.
  • Provides direct connectivity for Casa Grande and Maricopa job markets.

There is a lot to like about the proposed Interstate 11. As an economic development professional, you rarely see such promising transportation advancements come around in your lifetime.

My response: Viva Las Vegas!