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Highway Plan Seen As Economic Bonus, Environmental Threat

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — A proposed highway that would be the southern leg of Arizona's Interstate 11 is being called both an economic benefit and an environmental threat.

The Arizona Daily Starreported Friday that federal, state and local agencies have reservations about the environmental impact for mostly undisturbed sections of the Sonoran Desert.

The 280-mile highway now in preliminary planning stages would extend from Nogales on the U.S.-Mexico border to Wickenburg, northwest of metro Phoenix.

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A draft environmental impact study by the Arizona Department of Transportation includes comments compiled by the agency over the past few years.

Tucson-area leaders see economic reasons for backing a new route, including increased Mexican trade and reduced congestion.

Critics say the interstate is unnecessary and are pushing the transportation department for a no-build option.