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Bill to extend interstate jumps first hurdle

The Interstate 11 project is in its infancy, but the ultimate goal of it taking drivers from Mexico to Canada took another step forward.

In March, the Intermountain West Corridor Development Act was introduced in the Senate to allow Nevada and Arizona’s transportation departments the flexibility to develop corridors that would eventually connect Southern Arizona and Northern Nevada through I-11.

U.S. Sens. Dean Heller, R-Nev., Harry Reid, D.-Nev., John McCain, R-Ariz., and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., worked on the act.

As part of the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act, the bill to extend I-11 through Northern Nevada recently passed through the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee by a 20-0 vote, Heller spokesman Neal Patel said.

Reid got the initial designation for the bill in 2012, said Reid spokeswoman Kristen Orthman, who added that the Nevada senators have worked together to get the interstate extended.

But with the Highway Trust Fund Authority set to expire July 31, Patel said Congress must act soon to fund the bill. He added that a bill for the I-11 extension could make it to the Senate floor sometime this month.

The bill’s passage through the environmental and public works committee comes about a month before blasting is to begin for the Boulder City bypass. The Eldorado Valley has been encircled in orange fencing as officials continue to block off the area before blasting.

Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada spokeswoman Monika Bertaki said blasting is set to begin between late July and mid-August.

“Prior to the start of blasting, notifications will be sent to homes and businesses in Boulder City to ensure residents are aware that blasting will occur during the specified time period,” she said.

Ryan Mendenhall, divisional manager for Las Vegas Paving and project manager for the RTC’s 12.5 mile portion of the bypass, said the company plans to use a different type of explosive that reduces the amount of dust in the air.

Though concrete has yet to be laid for the project, the I-11 extension measure’s passage through the senate’s committee is a win for Nevada, said state lawmakers who have been touting its importance since its inception.

“Today is a good day for Nevada as we are now one step closer to completing the I-11 extension,” Heller said in a statement. “It was certainly great to see my colleagues from both sides of the aisle agree (that) an extension of I-11 through Nevada will provide the economic and trade development our state deserves.”

Contact reporter Steven Slivka at sslivka@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow @StevenSlivka on Twitter.

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