Mallory Jimenez
Residents of Mineral County look at maps of possible routes through Nevada for the new Interstate 11 at a public meeting last week inside the Hawthorne Convention Center.

Mineral County residents showed up despite wind storms to voice their thoughts and concerns of the proposed Interstate 11 project.

Interstate 11 or more commonly known as the I-11 corridor would connect Las Vegas to Interstate 80. The background of the I-11 project began in 1991, when a new road corridor which would connect international trade through the American West was federally designated.

This then developed into I-11, where the interstate near Boulder City is nearing completing. The future of the I-11 project as stated by Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) “will generally follow U.S. 95 between northwestern Las Vegas and I-80 in western Nevada.”

NDOT began holding public meetings mid-March to begin evaluating what communities and stakeholders feedback to help NDOT with the development of this interstate facility.

“The future I-11 will not only further connect our state, but the entire West. It will bring enhanced mobility, traffic safety, freight and other opportunities for Nevada,” Rudy Malfabon, NDOT Director stated in a media release. “As we begin initial planning to determine the interstate’s exact path, these meetings are an opportunity for Nevadans to give feedback and help establish the blueprint of this vital interstate.”

The presentation was held in an open house format with a question and answer session. The overall picture of the meeting was broken down into four categories: advance – I-11 through a federally recognized, collaborative process to identify the most promising potential corridors; document – issues and opportunities to inform and streamline future NEPA processes; formulate – a plan to advance I-11 over the next 10-20 years and prepare – Nevada with identified corridors for preservation should a federal lands bill advance.

Mineral County is ahead of the game on identifying a route, should I-11 come through the area. Congressman Ruben J. Kiheun, 4th District of Nevada sent a letter to Governor Brian Sandoval and Malfabon expressing his concerns for the Mineral County Alternate Route B1 (shown at town hall meetings) stating, “I am strongly concerned that the Alternative Route B1 bypasses the towns of Mina, Luning, Hawthorne, Walker Lake, Schurz, and Yerington, passing only through the town of Gabbs. This route creates a corridor of approximately 200 miles that is almost entirely devoid of infrastructure and necessary services, including law enforcement, medical facilities and personnel, and fire rescue services. As you are aware, the town of Gabbs has a population of approximately 250 people, and currently depends on the communities of Tonopah and Hawthorne for basic services.”

He would continue to express concern about Alternative Rote B1 stating, “I have received a letter from the SOC Nevada LLC – the operating contractor for the Hawthorne Army Depot – expressing their concerns regarding the affect Alternative Route B1 would have on Hawthorne’s economy, as well as their ability to meet personnel demands.”

Mineral County Economic Development Authority Director Shelley Hartmann said, “The attendance was hampered by weather, however still a good turnout. NDOT officials told us we are a couple of years ahead of them in planning. They are still studying routes that we as a community have already eliminated. Cindy Nixon pointed out that the community spent a lot of time going to the legislature to secure the route through Hawthorne and asked why they don’t have any of our supporting documentation.”

That documentation can be seen at the Independent-News or with Hartmann. A comment form for residents to express their concerns can be found at either place, also.

“We felt that one had doesn’t know what the other is doing. The NDOT representatives were glad to receive all of the research and maps that had been created by the community and assured us that we will have more time to comment in June,” Hartmann concluded.