from the you-can't-get-there-from-here dept.
Papas Fritas writes:
"Michelle Rindel reports at AP that despite being two of the largest cities in the Southwest, Las Vegas and Phoenix are linked by a road that narrows to two lanes, hits stoplights in a Depression-era town and until recently backed up traffic over the Hoover Dam. An effort to improve what's now a 4 1/2-hour drive to cover the 300 miles of desert between Sin City and the Valley of the Sun with a more reliable road has heavy-hitting allies, including business leaders and the Republican governor of each state. 'Long-term jobs are created by our connectivity,' says Steve Betts, noting that the stretch would be the first piece of a new shipping route between Mexico and Canada.
That the cities aren't already linked by an interstate is a fluke of timing. The Phoenix and Las Vegas populations exploded just after the national road-building frenzy that started in the 1950s. The Las Vegas metro area, population 2 million, is 40 times larger than it was in 1950. The Phoenix area, population 4.3 million, has grown 13-fold over that span. Highway supporters won a key victory last year when Congress formally designated Interstate 11. The legislation provides no funding, but it allows builders to tap into interstate construction dollars. An interstate could link Los Angeles, Phoenix and Las Vegas as partners in a 'megaregion' that competes with other regions, and could open a trade route from Mexico to Pacific Ocean ports and Canada. Arizona and Nevada are currently losing much of that flow and its attendant development to Texas and California, according to Betts, chairman of CAN-DO, an acronym for Connecting Arizona and Nevada-Delivering Opportunities. Still, other critics worry that pushing further toward the interstate dream would contribute to urban sprawl and hurt the environment. 'The last thing we need is another freeway,' says Sandy Bahr, president of the Arizona chapter of the Sierra Club. 'We need to look for other transportation modes.'"