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Reid: Future funding of I-11 on shaky ground | News

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Reid: Future funding of I-11 on shaky ground

BOULDER CITY, Nev. -- Governor Brian Sandoval and Senator Harry Reid were among many political leaders celebrating the groundbreaking of Interstate 11 on Monday.

The new highway will start at the end of I-515, or US 95 loop south of Boulder City and connect to the Hoover Dam bypass.

It will connect to Arizona's portion of the interstate, which is still in the planning stages, cutting 30 minutes from the drive between Las Vegas and Phoenix.

However, Senator Reid hinted that the future expansion of the new interstate may be on shaky ground. Although funding for this leg of the project seems to be solidified, future funding may be in jeopardy.

"We already know that we are one of the logistic capitals of the world, but one of the things that we are lacking is an interstate highway," said Governor Brian Sandoval.

"We talk here about the road from here to Phoenix, we're the only two metropolitan areas in the country that are not connected," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.

The 15-mile Boulder City bypass -- the first phase of I-11 construction -- is a small part of the 300-mile route to Phoenix.

Traffic between Arizona and Nevada is expected to increase by 50 percent in the next 30 years. Transportation officials say having a four-lane divided interstate is the key to handling the increasing demand.

"We're going to be facing a tsunami of people and freight that we need to start preparing for now, today is a terrific example of that kind of commitment," said Gregory Nadeau, Federal Highway Administration.

Federal transportation funds will pay for about 90 percent of the project which is $291 million.

But paying for extending the interstate is in question. Current transportation funds are being allocated by short-term funding bills.

"We have a constitutional obligation to congressionally direct funding, and everyone, those people who have joined with the president in that no earmarks, they're wrong," Reid said.

Now, transportation officials say funding future parts of I-11 in both Nevada and Arizona hangs on a bipartisan effort by both states' delegation on Capitol Hill something Reid is skeptical of moving forward.

"Yeah, but talk's cheap, and it's going to cost some real money, and not a lot of talk," he said.

Senator Dean Heller says he will continue to push for the money.

"Absolutely, absolutely it'll become my responsibility," he said.

Clark County Commissioner Larry Brown told 8 News NOW that since funding for future parts of the interstate are up in the air, transportation officials pushed forward on this phase as soon as the federal funds were available.

Construction is scheduled to be completed in 2018.


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