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December 18, 2014

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Gas tax hike paves the way for smoother valley roads

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Fuel tax rising

The average driver drives 13,500 miles a year in a vehicle that gets 25 miles to the gallon. Here is the additional annual cost for the average driver, with each fuel tax increase:

Jan. 1: +$17.46

July 1: +$35.57

July 1, 2015: +$53.90

Eight months ago, Clark County drivers started paying more taxes at the pump.

That money already is fueling a new round of road projects.

Drivers might curse the orange cones and traffic delays, but they’ll likely appreciate the widened roads, smooth surfaces and safer turn lanes when the projects are completed.

So far, 41 new road projects have been started through the program, and 48 are slated to start soon. Dozens more are in the preplanning stages. In government speak, the program is known as Fuel Revenue Indexing, or FRI.

Drivers used to pay almost 53 cents a gallon in local, state and federal gasoline taxes. Clark County got about 9 cents of that.

Under FRI, approved by county commissioners last September, drivers pay an additional 6 cents per gallon in taxes. The tax will continue to rise with inflation through 2016, maxing out at a 10-cent increase. That translates to about $52 a year for the average driver.

Voters will decide in 2016 whether to allow the fuel tax to continue rising.

Clark County’s share of the gas tax hadn’t increased since 1995. Without the hike, local officials said there would have been only about $22 million a year for road repairs and new construction.

“The bottom line is we were falling further and further behind in infrastructure, so we needed to identify some kind of revenue sources,” said Clark County Commissioner Larry Brown, who also chairs the Regional Transportation Commission. “A lot of the feedback we received was to tie (the tax) into those who use the roads — the drivers.”

Altogether, the Regional Transportation Commission expects to complete 199 projects worth $694 million. The work is expected to create more than 4,000 jobs.

What it will pay for

The 199 projects being funded by increased fuel taxes will make roads safer for pedestrians, overhaul major thoroughfares and build new highways.

Here’s a list of the 15 biggest and most expensive projects that will be paid for using new fuel tax revenue.

Boulder City

1. I-11; $52.8 million. 12-mile stretch of interstate from Hoover Dam bridge to U.S. 95; includes 10 bridges and a scenic view parking area.

Clark County

2. 215 Beltway bridge; $11 million. Freeway bridge over Durango Drive and Fort Apache Road.

3. Lamb Boulevard (Owens Avenue to Las Vegas Blvd); $2 million. Remove and replace asphalt on Lamb Boulevard; bring sidewalk ramps up to Americans with Disabilities Act standards; upgrade sidewalks, curbs, gutters, water valves and traffic signs.

4. 215 Beltway airport connector; $32.5 million. Install new ramps connecting southbound airport connector to eastbound 215 Beltway; widen westbound 215 at the airport; realign off ramps.

5. 215 Beltway (Decatur Boulevard to N. Fifth Street); $52 million. Improve stretch of 215 Beltway to freeway standards with six travel lanes, concrete barrier rails, streetlights and improved traffic signals​.

Henderson

6. Stephanie Street (Russell Road to Galleria Drive); $20 million. Increase travel lanes from four to six; build new bridge over U.S. 95.

7. Arroyo Grand Parkway (Horizon Ridge Parkway to Sunset Road); $3.27 million. Repave road; add new bike lanes; improve pedestrian access.

8. Warm Springs Road (Arroyo Grand Parkway to Boulder Highway); $5.6 million. Increase travel lanes from four to six; add bike lanes.

Las Vegas

9. Las Vegas Boulevard (Stewart Avenue to Sahara Avenue); $22.9 million. Rehabilitate pavement; widen sidewalks; add pedestrian-friendly features including street lights and trees. In the design stages.

10. Main Street and Commerce Street downtown couplet; $19.4 million. Convert Main and Commerce streets into one-way roads; add bike lanes; widen sidewalks; repave.

11. Rancho Drive and Decatur Boulevard intersection; $4.5 million. Add right turn lanes for northbound and southbound Decatur Boulevard; add bus turnout on southbound Rancho Drive.

North Las Vegas

12. Carey Avenue (I-15 to Revere Street); $2.5 million. Widen Carey Avenue to five lanes by completing missing road sections; replace missing curbs and gutters; connect pedestrian walkways.

13. Losee Road (Craig Road to 215 Beltway); $12.6 million. Increase travel lanes from four to six; add traffic signals; upgrade drainage, medians, curbs, gutters, sidewalks and lighting.

14. Simmons Street (Cheyenne Avenue to Red Coach Avenue); $10.1 million. Increase travel lanes from four to six; add traffic signals; upgrade drainage, medians, curbs, gutters, sidewalks and lighting.

15. Regional Transportation Committee Flamingo Road (Boulder Highway to Hualapai Way); $13 million. Build dedicated transit lanes for buses; install new bus shelters.

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