Consider them signs of progress.
The governors of two states met at the site of two spectacular engineering achievements, pledging to make the completion of Interstate 11 a reality.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval unveiled a pair of I-11 signs, one marking the future route of the multibillion-dollar freeway between Phoenix and Las Vegas and another with the familiar red, white and blue interstate highway shield designating I-11 in Nevada.
Standing within view of Hoover Dam, completed in the 1930s, and the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge spanning the Colorado River and completed in 2010, the two governors commended the historic cooperation between the two states and said it would be essential to continue that to complete the 290-mile four-lane highway.
Joining Brewer and Sandoval at the podium were Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., the co-chairman of the Congressional I-11 Coalition, and the directors of the Arizona and Nevada transportation departments.
The four signs designating the I-11 route were posted Friday, two visible to northbound motorists and two to southbound drivers of U.S. Highway 93, the existing highway between Phoenix and Las Vegas, the two largest cities in the United States not linked by an interstate.
Sandoval, Brewer and Horsford hailed I-11 as an economic driver for the two states because the highway eventually would link Mexico with Canada through them. The project also would generate hundreds of construction jobs, an employment sector severely hurt by the recession.
The route-marking signs are designed to keep the I-11 plan in the public eye. Signs are visible to southbound motorists at milepost 2 of U.S. 93, just south of the bridge over the Colorado and just south of Interstate 40 on U.S. 93. On the northbound side, signs have been posted just north of Wickenburg, Ariz., and just north of Kingman, Ariz., on U.S. 93.
Southern Nevada motorists currently use U.S. 93 and U.S. Highway 60 when they drive to Phoenix. The route is a mix of two-lane roads, four-lane divided highways that don’t meet interstate standards and a chunk of I-40. Traffic slows as it passes through Kingman, Wikieup and Wickenburg.
It hasn’t been determined how I-11 would be routed through Southern Nevada and how it would continue north of Las Vegas. A $2.5 million study to consider routes and estimate costs for the highway is expected to be completed by the end of the year. While state officials have no firm cost estimates, some experts have pegged it at between $4 billion and $10 billion.
A key piece of the route in Nevada includes a bypass around Boulder City.
Arizona and Nevada missed out on interstate highway funding in the 1950s because Phoenix and Las Vegas weren’t large enough at the time to consider a four-lane highway link.
Brewer and Sandoval said they would continue to direct their transportation departments to work together on the project and Horsford promised to work for bipartisan support for federal funding from lawmakers.
Contact reporter Richard N. Velotta at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-477-3893. Follow him on Twitter @RickVelotta.