TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — As Russ McSpadden looked at the view near Anklam Road in Tucson, he knew the other side of the mountains could soon be transformed by a stretch of highway going from Nogales, Arizona to Wickenburg.
Overall, the proposed highway would stretch from Mexico to Canada.
McSpadden worries the highway would disturb Saguaro National Park and national monuments.
“These are really treasured public lands, really treasured landscapes,” he said.
He’s also worried the proposed highway would cause more traffic and congestion, which he said could increase greenhouse gas emissions.
He’s the Southwest conservation advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the groups suing the Federal Highway Administration to stop plans to build I11.
ADOT said they did studies and got input from the public that considered the environmental impacts of the highway and came up with alternative routes. One of those alternatives has the highway north of Marana.
ADOT said they don’t have funding for phase 2 of planning and don’t have funding for the project overall, so they don’t have a timeline for it.
However, McSpadden said the Federal Highway Administration isn’t considering other plans.
“Alternatives like green transportation infrastructure, lightrail, better bike lanes, and public transit,” he said.
He’s not the only one hoping the highway doesn’t get built.
Carolyn Campbell, the executive director of the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection said she’s also worried about the ecological impacts to Arizona.
Her group is also suing the Federal Highway Administration.
“The federal and the local governments have been working to protect those areas for 100 years,” she said.
She said the highway would drive away plants and endangered species.
She’s hoping instead they expand I-19 and I-10 without widening it and is also hoping they consider more public transportation.
“The federal government in our opinion has just shortcut environmental laws, federal environmental laws,” Campbell said.
Andrew Christiansen is a reporter for KGUN 9. Before joining the team, Andrew reported in Corpus Christi, Texas for KRIS6 News, Action 10 News and guest reported in Spanish for Telemundo Corpus Christi. Share your story ideas with Andrew by emailing [email protected] or by connecting on Facebook, or Twitter.