Wednesday, September 22, 2021 4:00 am

GOP lawmaker, environmental groups opposed to I-11

Motorists head northbound toward Las Vegas on U.S. Highway 93, near Kingman, Ariz. /Julie Jacobson

By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services via PinalCentral

A proposed new freeway from Nogales to Wickenburg through Pinal County has united a Republican legislator and environmental interests in opposition, albeit for different reasons.

Rep. Mark Finchem, R-Oro Valley, questions the wisdom of the state constructing hundreds of miles of new freeway when he says it can’t even take care of the roads it already has. He said there are far better alternatives for moving freight from Mexico to Canada and back, especially rail.

The Center for Biological Diversity, for its part, finds little justification for constructing 280 miles of new road — some of it through environmentally sensitive areas — when the real demand to reduce traffic congestion is in the urban areas. Randy Serraglio, southwest conservation advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity, says the money would be better spent improving mass transportation.

Both views are contrary to those of Gov. Doug Ducey who has emerged as one of the leading proponents of the south half of the project which, depending on the final path, could cost anywhere from $3.1 billion to $7.3 billion.


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