Silver (state) bullet

A proposed Mexico-to-Canada highway gets mixed reactions.

  • The proposed route of Interstate 11 through Arizona and Nevada.

    Eric Baker

It'll carry Mexican produce north, put rural towns on the map and transform isolated cities into transportation hubs. But though funding for Interstate 11 is non-existent and construction still decades away, opposition to the Mexico-to-Canada corridor – the first new interstate since I-70 was completed in 1992 – is already gathering steam. "We know freeways drive development and sprawl," says Sandy Bahr, director of the Sierra Club's Grand Canyon chapter. "And we already have huge air-quality problems in the Phoenix area."

Or, as Tonopah, Nev., business owner Ron Browning grumbled to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, "By the time they get a freeway built, we'll be flying cars."

A section linking Phoenix and Las Vegas – the largest adjacent major U.S. cities not joined by an interstate – is the top priority, with planning underway. Supporters cite economic benefits, safer driving and decreased traffic jams. But along less-developed routes north of Vegas and south of Phoenix, the response is less enthusiastic. In Picture Rocks, Ariz., retiree Albert Lannon enjoys sleeping on a futon outside his doublewide, listening to great horned owls. "I'd hate to listen to the sounds of traffic instead," he says.

SOURCES: Nevada Department of Transportation, Las Vegas Review-Journal,

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