THE LATEST ON I-11
Record of Decision
On November 15, 2021, the Federal Highway Administration released its Record of Decision for the Interstate 11 (I-11) Final Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement, including the Selected Corridor Alternative. Unfortunately, the Selected Corridor Alternative did not abandon the West Option through Avra Valley; instead, it maintains both the West and East Options in the Tucson Region as the process moves forward to the Tier 2 stage. The full Record of Decision with Appendices is also available for review.
In response to this, the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection (CSDP) joined three other conservation groups (all member groups of CSDP) on April 21, 2022 to file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Tucson challenging the Federal Highway Administration’s approval of Interstate 11 last year. The other plaintiffs include the Center for Biological Diversity, Tucson Audubon Society, and Friends of Ironwood Forest.
The agency approved the highway in November 2021 despite postponing an environmental review or deciding between two route options in Pima County, both of which would harm wildlife, public lands, and air quality and exacerbate the climate emergency. The lawsuit says this “approve now, study later” approach violated federal law.
“This is an egregious assault on 100 years of efforts by local, state and federal land agencies to protect important desert lands forever, for species to survive and move through the landscape,” said Carolyn Campbell with the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection. “There is overwhelming opposition by residents, tribal entities, public agencies and elected officials here in the Tucson area and we won’t stop until we’ve blocked this destructive and unneeded freeway that will harm our wildlands and wildlife.”
On January 25, 2023, U.S. District Judge John C. Hinderaker heard arguments on the federal government’s motion to dismiss a portion of our lawsuit. You can learn more at this press release about the court hearing.
On May 24, 2023, U.S. District Judge John C. Hinderaker issued his decision and denied the federal government’s motion to dismiss a portion of our lawsuit. This means our lawsuit can move forward in full. Learn more at this press release and this AZ Daily Star article. You can also read Judge Hinderaker’s full decision.
We remain strongly opposed to the West Selected Corridor Alternative Option in Avra Valley. We put together a set of talking points that summarize why the West Option should be abandoned in future stages of this planning process.
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/
City of Tucson Resolution opposing I-11 in Avra Valley, originally passed in 2019, and reaffirmed by the Tucson City Council on August 10, 2021
Pima County Resolution opposing I-11 in Avra Valley, passed by the Pima County Board of Supervisors on August 16, 2021
Letter from the Town of Sahuarita opposing I-11 in Avra Valley, written after the Mayor and Town Council formally opposing the I-11 West Option on August 10, 2021
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 2021! 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 Interstate 11 on your social media pages and encourage your friends and family to learn more 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 Selected Corridor 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.
This saguaro cactus stands tall and greets the sun in Saguaro National Park-Tucson Mountain District. Photo courtesy Saguaro National Park/NPS.
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.
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!