The First New Interstate in 25 Years Is Open & It’s In Vegas!

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A portion of I-11 driving towards Arizona. Photo courtesy of the Southern Nevada RTC.

Interstate 11 Open

A new Interstate highway hadn’t opened in the United States since 1992, but that has now changed. The first portion of I-11 has now opened between the Arizona border and Henderson, NV. This small portion of a highway that will eventually span from Mexico to Canada will also be eventually tasked with linking Las Vegas & Phoenix which are the two largest cities in the country not linked by interstate.

Before this section of I-11 (also known as the Boulder City Bypass) opened, upwards of 30,000 cars per day had to pass through Boulder City on their way from Nevada to Arizona. As you can see, the new highway bypasses the town completely.

Interstate 11 Open

This new project cost over $300 million and is said to save up to 30 minutes on the drive between Arizona and Vegas. I would say 30 minutes is optimistic, but perhaps it could save that much during the absolute peak time when Boulder City would get completely overrun with cars and large trucks.

My Experience

Interstate 11 Open
Work on a wildlife crossing bridge over I-11 in February, 2018. Photo courtesy of the Southern Nevada RTC

I had the opportunity to drive the new I-11 yesterday and it was pretty cool. Along the route they have positioned artwork that tells the story of the area and at certain points drivers are awarded with stunning views of the lake and the mountains the highway cuts through. In certain spots it was quite a bit steeper than I thought it would be. It’s a fun and scenic drive!

As someone who travels to Arizona a couple of times a year, I appreciate the new option. It’s a beautiful new stretch of road and the beginning of a much needed link to Phoenix. It will eventually take decades to finish I-11 but hopefully the Phoenix to Vegas portion will not take so long.

You can find some awesome construction photos along with a pretty amazing time lapse video here.

 


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12 COMMENTS

  1. You probably drive that stretch more than I do, but i did it at least once a year until this year. And between the Hoover Dam pre-bypass and the Boulder City traffic, there were notable traffic issues. Heck, Boulder City on a popular Friday or Sunday was easily an hour (try driving to Phoenix after the first weekend of March Madness) during mornings and early afternoons.

    So during mid day and post-rush hour, this probably makes little difference. But when I am actually likely to be driving to Vegas, it may be a godsend. 🙂

  2. There’s been hundreds of miles of new interstate roadway opened since 1992, new rural segments, new urban interstate, bypasses, you name it, all on the interstate system. This bypass is nice, however it’s nothing special. Just another bypass built & signed as an interstate planned to be extended. It happens all the time, all over the U.S. Until the entire stretch is completed in the US, it’s nothing unique.

    The claim “it’s the first since ‘92” is everything but true.

    • That statistic comes from the Department of Transportation. Yes, new auxiliary interstates have been built but those are branches of Primary Interstates. For example, even here in Las Vegas I-215 was built off of I-15 but that is considered a part of I-15 hence the name. This is a new Primary Interstate (one or two digits) and is the first since 1992. This is funded and was built as a Primary Interstate not a bypass. I never claimed other roads weren’t expanded, etc. This is the first new Interstate since 1992. It’s a legal designation, but I won’t argue semantics. I was just excited that it opened and I finally was able to drive it. 😉

      • My issue is that the claim is “is the first new interstate built in the United States since 1992.”

        While this may be the first in Nevada, it is not the first in the U.S.

        I-73, I-69, I-2, I-87 (just to name a few I know), and numerous others of new interstates have been built on new location specifically for that route, or upgraded versions of existing routes, in the United States after 1992.

        And yes, many other auxiliary routes have been added as well.

        I’m not complaining at you, it’s what the DOT decided to boast I-11 as.

  3. The ONLY thing that would REALLY make sense is if the speed limit would be lifted.
    Anything other than that is not a big excitement.
    Let’s have ONE road where we can DRIVE !!
    People have big Audis, BMW’s etc. …. These things can do 160 mph.
    It’s fun !!
    And: It DOES get you to places quite a bit faster …

  4. I-11 really confused Siri when I took a new section several months ago (to intersection of 11 & 95).

    This project has interested me for a while. The only thing that bugs me is that it is breaking the numbering convention.

    • @Ian, in how far does I-11 not follow the numbering convention? I’m sorry if my question is stupid … maybe I am just slow on the uptake.

  5. The wildlife crossing bridge seems like one of those reason that public work project must have studies. years in court and cost a small fortune if ever built. I believe there is a road built with a tunnel underneath; so that turtles can cross safely. Now on I-44 around Springfield, MO, when the deer are moving, the OTR drivers can’t help but nail a few Bambi.

    Lets hope the wildlife use the overpass and not cause death or total out a car.

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