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Avra Valley homeowner concerned over I-11

AVRA VALLEY, Ariz. – The Arizona Department of Transportation released details on a study that shows possible routes they could put Interstate 11. That has some Avra Valley homeowners concerned because it could mean they’d have to find another place to live.

Christopher Johnson has lived in Avra Valley for two years. His home sits on several acres in a part of town that lets him enjoy the wilderness and quiet.

“It’s situated on ten acres and this home means absolutely everything to me,” Johnson said. “There is nowhere else on the planet earth I’d rather be.”

His property might be in jeopardy should the ADOT and the Federal Highway Administration decide Interstate 11 be built through Avra Valley.

“We just learned that there are two routes that ADOT and the Federal Highway Administration are proposing through Avra Valley,” Johnson said. “Either one of them is set out to eliminate roughly 50 homes and businesses.”

ADOT has since released an environmental study and will release their impact statement at the start of January and then ask for public comment and hold six public hearings.

“It stands to go right through my living room. I suppose I would be evicted through eminent domain laws,” Johnson said.

Besides his home, he said the environment will be impacted. That also has members of the Avra Valley Coalition concerned.

“Any highway out here will be centered over the cities floodplain which contains our fresh water supply,” said Johnson, “At this point, our communities hope to oppose Interstate 11 and emphasize the need for an Interstate 10 expansion instead.”

News 4 Tucson reached out to ADOT and they provided the following statement.

The Interstate 11 Tier 1 environmental study is a continuing process by the Arizona Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration. It is imperative to understand that a specific corridor has not been selected at this time. ADOT and FHWA have been studying three corridor options in the Avra Valley and Tucson areas since 2017, and that is what was reflected on the recent map files provided to community members from FHWA. These three corridor options were presented as part of the Alternatives Selection Process and were presented to the public in May 2017 during six public meetings and a public comment period.

For reference, a corridor is a 2,000-foot-wide swath of land. An actual freeway alignment is approximately 400 feet or less and would be determined during Tier 2 environmental studies once the Tier 1 study is complete in late 2019. Tier 2 studies have not been funded or programmed yet.

At this point in the process, ADOT and FHWA have not determined a specific route for Interstate 11, and because of that, we cannot determine which specific homes or businesses might be affected by a specific route.

 The next step in the Tier 1 study process is the publication of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which will present a recommended 2,000-foot-wide corridor for Southern Arizona, along with the No-Build Option. The Draft EIS is expected to be published in early January 2019. ADOT and FHWA will then look to the public for comment on the document in early 2019. Six public hearings will be scheduled, along with a comment period that will last for a minimum of 45 days. The I-11 study website will also provide many resources, including the Draft EIS document and opportunities for comments. That website can be found at www.i11study.com/Arizona.  

Once the public comment period is complete in early 2019, the I-11 study team will continue to evaluate the Recommended Corridor Alternative based on the comments received and the technical analysis. The Final Environmental Impact Statement will present a Preferred Corridor Alternative and the No-Build Option in 2019. This will provide another opportunity for public comment. Finally, the Record of Decision by the Federal Highway Administration will present either a Selected Corridor Alternative or the No-Build Option. This is expected in late 2019 or early 2020.

ADOT and FHWA will continue to keep all community members and stakeholders informed of the Tier 1 environmental study process and the results. All published documents and information can be found at www.i11study.com/Arizona.

Denelle Confair

Denelle Confair

Multimedia reporter for News 4 Tucson. Follow her on Facebook @DenelleConfairKVOA and Twitter @DenelleKVOA. Story idea? Email her at Dconfair@kvoa.com
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