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January 25, 2015

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Mayor: Proposed Interstate 11 could be commercial boon for Las Vegas

City could become a free port for transporting goods to and from Long Beach


Justin M. Bowen

Traffic leaving town gathers on U.S. 93 near the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge outside Boulder City on Friday, Feb. 25, 2011.

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."

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  1. This makes no sense. How is building a freeway from Las Vegas to Phoenix going to help get ships unloaded faster in Long Beach?

    If you want to build a freeway, fine, but don't use this as a justification. These politicians look dumber and dumber everyday.

  2. I think it is a good idea and would be even better if it were built as a toll road. The fee could be variable, pegged at the cost of, say, a gallon or two of fuel to drive the entire length from LV to Phoenix. Drivers would likely save that much fuel using it so it would basically cost them nothing out-of-pocket, but they would save time, aggravation and wear and tear on their vehicles.

  3. The bridge to nowhere at least would have linked the city of Ketchican to the island its international airport was located on. I-11 would link the Mexican and Canadian borders through Las Vegas so that Chinese goods sent to a Chinese built and operated Port in Mexico could move through the Western US and Canada, bypassing the port of Los Angeles/Long Beach, and U.S. and Canadian bulk cargoes, such as grain, coal, and minerals could move from Canada and the Western United States to China through that Chinese built and operated Mexican port, bypassing Canadian and US ports that handle bulk cargoes (eg., Vancouver, Seattle/Tacoma, Portland, Oakland). Northbound traffic from the port would be containers. Southbound traffic would be bulk.

    Large amounts of bulk moves most economically over water, economically over rail, and less economically by truck. As fuel prices rise, trucking becomes uneconomic for transporting bulk long distances.

    Why is I-11 planned as an interstate highway rather than a canal or a rail lines? A canal is out because water cannot be assured. A highway is not economic. That leaves rail -- plain old ordinary rail -- which can move bulk and containers in a cost-effective manner.

    Except possibly for the freeway between Phoenix and Las Vegas, this I-11 would be a highway to nowhere, built at great expense to rival U.S. 50 as the loneliest road in America.

    We could surely put our public money to better use than building a highway which will be empty as gasoline and diesel prices continue to rise.

  4. While the Chinese owned port idea was something I hadn't thought of and is interesting, at this point I'm more worried about the hwyway traffic from Mexico through Las Vegas that his might bring. Unsafe Mexican trucks and truckers are already a problem so they say, not to mention the drugs and violence already finding it's way north from mexico to Phoenix and beyond may present a bigger problem.

    Interestingly, the Chinese bought, now own and operate the Port of Las Angeles and the Panama Canal. Wal-Mart had special container ships built just to go back and forth between Los Angeles and China that are too big to go through the Panama Canal. They are if I remember correctly, the largest cargo ships in the world and bigger than US aircraft carriers.

    These ships had special engines, fuel management systems, hull designs and hull coatings that allow it to both cut transit time, cruise at relatively high speeds for a super tanker class ship and get very good fuel consumption. They have been widely reported on and numerous articles and photos are available on the net for those interested.

    If the bust hadn't happened and the US economy were truly healthy, I would expect Wal-Mart to buy and operate their own airline. They have their own shipping line, their own trucking company, their own banking and finance company, etc. About the only thing they don't do is fly and manufacture goods. As long as they can buy Chinese made goods cheaper than anywhere else I wouldn't expect them to even think about that. They don't like unions so they would stay away from the airlines unless they leased or had a complete in house operation.

  5. We do not know what value a project like this would bring to Las Vegas. What is certain is the statement by Oscar Goodman, the intent to insert a subpliminal message that he is somehow a visionary leading the path to progress for Las Vegas by agreeing to go forward with this project. His wife is running for mayor, he needs to maintain access and control of the mayor office. He will do and say whatever it takes to position himself and his wife in a favorable light with the voters.

    This is an election, anything goes.