Interstate 11 project gets congressional attention - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Interstate 11 project gets congressional attention

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LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

A Washington political heavyweight met with local leaders about funding Interstate 11 from Las Vegas to Phoenix.

House Democratic Minority Whip Steny Hoyer joined Congressman Steven Horsford in a roundtable discussion on getting Capitol Hill to back the project.

The windfall isn't just a shorter and safer drive, it's to open up commerce.

"This is a game changer in our region," Horsford said. "We are the only two metropolitan areas in the United States, Las Vegas and Phoenix, that don't have an interstate connecting them. That is a deterrent to our long-term economic development and our ability to grow."

Nevada business and agency leaders met with Horsford and Hoyer to talk about federal funding in the public-private partnership.

Hoyer says he believes Congress sees the need for the interstate but getting the money will take both sides of the aisle coming together.

"There is bipartisan support for making sure we have the resources to make sure we have the infrastructure to keep America strong and to grow jobs in our country," Hoyer said. "Right now, however, we haven't provided those resources. But I'm confident that there is bipartisan support for that and we'll be working for it."

One possibility would be raising the federal gas tax, something that hasn't been done since 1993, and might be a tough sell to Republicans.

If not, the fight will getting money allocated and finding where cuts could be made to make it happen.

"This is a long-term project," Horsford said. "It's going to take probably a decade to really see all of the resources and pieces come together. But we're already making tremendous progress."

That fight will continue as congress reconvenes.

In the meantime, the Nevada part of the partnership has $350 million for the Boulder City bypass project as part of Interstate 11.

The RTC says that phase will begin construction by the end of this year.

Arizona is still working on a funding mechanism.

About $200 million of the money for the Boulder City bypass comes from fuel tax indexing ordinance that started on Jan. 1 after being passed by the county commission.

The 12 miles of new freeway will take three years to complete.

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