On July 16, 2021, the Arizona Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration released the Tier 1 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). The FEIS now identifies TWO possible Preferred Alternatives, a West Option through Avra Valley AND an East Option that co-locates I-11 with I-19 and I-10 through the Tucson region.
ACTION #1: REQUEST AN EXTENSION OF THE PUBLIC COMMENT DEADLINE FROM 30 DAYS TO 120 DAYS
The first action we are asking you to take is to submit a short comment letter requesting an extension of the public comment deadline from the current 30 days to a longer 120 days (see section below for various ways to submit your comment). You can read the comment letter we submitted with this request HERE. Feel free to copy the language in this letter and/or personalize with your own words.
A summary of talking points from our letter requesting an extension of the public comment deadline include:
- The 30-day comment period is insufficient for review of the documents and ensuring the public is aware of the opportunity to review and comment on the project.
- Because the impacts of this project are intergenerational, we urge you to consider an extension to provide the public with a full and fair opportunity to participate in this process.
- Many of the communities impacted by the Preferred Alternative Options within the Corridor Study area are minority and low-income populations who in many cases do not have access to the traditional means by which federal EIS processes are advertised and published. Both proposed alternatives will have disproportionately adverse effects on these populations and they will need adequate time to be notified via ground mail or other means.
- The West Option through Pima County is proposed through traditional Tohono O’odham lands where tribal members may have limited internet access.
- The Draft EIS documents totaled close to 5000 pages of text, maps, and other figures – the length and breadth of this document warrants a longer public comment period to allow adequate review by the public.
- A new Interstate freeway has not been built in this metropolitan area since 1961 – over two generations ago. Many of the issues will have long-lasting, significant impacts on our community and we need sufficient time to review the record, research issues and concerns, and provide a substantive response.
ACTION #2: SUBMIT A COMMENT STATING YOUR OPPOSITION TO THE WEST PREFERRED ALTERNATIVE OPTION (can be done concurrently or separately from Action #1)
The Tier 1 FEIS identifies TWO Preferred Alternative routes: 1) a West Option that runs through Avra Valley, and 2) an East Option that co-locates I-11 with I-19 and I-10 through the Tucson region. There is currently a 30-day public comment period for the FEIS, with public comments due on August 16, 2021 (see above for information on our efforts to extend this deadline to October 16, 2021).
The overarching message we encourage in your comments is that ADOT/FHWA should ABANDON the West Preferred Alternative Option in Avra Valley. We have put together a set of talking points to assist you with your comments. You are welcome to use these as-is, pick the ones that resonate with you the most, and/or personalize them to your interests.
Comments can be submitted in the following ways:
Phone: 1.844.544.8049 (bilingüe)
Mail: I-11 Tier 1 EIS Study Team c/o ADOT Communications
1655 W. Jackson Street Mail Drop 126F
Phoenix, AZ 85007
The main I-11 FEIS website is at: http://origin.i11study.com/Arizona/
A traditional PDF version of the FEIS (split into multiple documents) can be found at: http://origin.i11study.com/Arizona/Documents.asp
An interactive version of the FEIS can be accessed at: https://i11.ee.alytics.com/I11Arizona-Tier1EIS/
WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO?
1. Write a Letter to the Editor. There was a steady drumbeat of opposition to the proposed I-11 route in the Opinion section of the AZ Daily Star in 2019 and we want that to continue now! Please submit a letter today! The AZ Daily Star will publish letters from individuals after a minimum of 30 days has passed since their last letter was printed so feel free to submit multiple letters over the next few months. All Letters to the Editor published to date are listed on our Media & Letters to the Editor webpage.
The on-line submission form to the AZ Daily Star can be found HERE.
Other regional newspapers also have a Letters to the Editor section. This includes:
Explorer/Marana News – online submission form
Green Valley News – online submission form
Inside Tucson Business – online submission form
Arizona Republic – online submission form
2. Write to U.S. Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly, your U.S. representative, your state senator and representatives, and Governor Ducey to express your opposition to the proposed I-11 route and to ask them to oppose any funding for the Tier 2 process for this project. Contact information for all of these elected officials is outlined below.
Senator Kyrsten Sinema – online form, mail addresses, and phone numbers
Senator Mark Kelly – online form, mail addresses and phone numbers
U.S. Representatives – enter your zip code and find contact info HERE
AZ State Senators and Representatives – enter your address and zip code and find contact info HERE
Governor Doug Ducey – online form
3. Share information about the Tier 1 I-11 FEIS and the current public comment process on your social media pages and encourage your friends and family to also submit public comments about this project. Feel free to share any of our posts about this project. Our social media pages can be found on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Thank you for continuing to use your voice and all the available avenues to pressure ADOT and FHWA to make the right choice and abandon the West Preferred Alternative Option in Avra Valley. And thank you for joining us in this important fight on behalf of the people and wildlife of the Sonoran Desert!
Photo gallery of lands that would be impacted by the proposed I-11 route. Photos by Frank Staub can be purchased at www.frankstaub.com. Please do not publish or reproduce photos without the photographer’s permission.
Photo gallery of wildlife that would be impacted by the proposed I-11 route. Please do not publish or reproduce photos without the photographer’s permission.
This Nelson’s Bighorn Sheep ram (Ovis canadensis nelsoni) was photographed in the northern end of the Tucson Mountains in 2016 after likely migrating from Ironwood Forest National Monument to the west (and directly through the area proposed for an I-11 route). This ram was one of two desert bighorn sheep spotted throughout the Tucson Mountains until they finally traveled further afield. Photo by Brian Jones.
Dr. Thomas Wiewandt, President of Wild Horizons Publishing (focus on impacts of sound/noise from freeways on wildlife)
Questions? Please reach out to our Associate Director Kathleen Kennedy at Kathleen.Kennedy@sonorandesert.org or leave us a voicemail at (520) 388-9925 and we’ll get back with you as soon as possible!