Friday, April 22, 2011 | 8:35 a.m.
Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman is lending his name in support of a proposed Interstate 11 highway that would connect the Las Vegas Valley to Phoenix.
"There are great opportunities in Las Vegas to make tons of money as the result of being a free port," Goodman told reporters at his weekly press conference Thursday at City Hall.
Las Vegas could work in cooperation with shipping ports in Long Beach, Calif., and Punta Colonet in Mexico, which are bringing in goods from China, Goodman said.
The mayor, who touched only briefly on the I-11 project, said he recently listened to a presentation on I-11 to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority by Tom Skancke, the president of the Skancke Co. Ltd. and a transportation consultant to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, and Jacob Snow, manager of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada.
Skanke also gave a presentation earlier this week to the Henderson City Council, which voiced support of the project.
Skancke and Snow "absolutely say we're missing the boat if we don't build an interstate between Las Vegas and Phoenix," Goodman said. "And that interstate should be connected to all of the western part of the United States."
"The opportunities for commerce are phenomenal," Goodman said.
The interstate would provide for a greater shipping flow of goods from the Southern California ports through the southwest, he said.
"The barges are just lined up in the Pacific, waiting to be unloaded and for transportation by trucks to take them some place," he said.
"The two biggest cities in the United States that do not have an interstate connecting them are Las Vegas and Phoenix," he said. "This discussion really started seriously as a result of the logjam up in Boulder City."
The traffic jam occurred when the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge opened over the Colorado River at Hoover Dam, clogging traffic along two lanes through Boulder City.
Plans for I-11, which would include a bypass around Boulder City, call for it to run northwest from Las Vegas along U.S. 95 toward Reno, Oregon and Washington, and southeast toward Phoenix along U.S. 93. Costs have been estimated in the billions. The recent discussion has been spurred by President Obama's efforts to spur job growth through investment in highway, railways and airports.
"I think that we're really going to concentrate on trying to get funding," Goodman said. "I think it would be a great stimulus project. It would be terrific for Las Vegas and it would be terrific for the rest of the United States.
"Because right now, goods that should be shipped and arrive at places on a timely basis, they're not being shipped because they can't get into a port," he said. "The reason they can't get into a port is because all the docks are full of material."