Tuesday, March 19, 1996 | 11:59 a.m.
Two miles of uninterrupted roadway designed to reduce Strip congestion opens Wednesday.
The Desert Inn Super Arterial will be able to carry 70,000 commuters from one side of Las Vegas Boulevard and Interstate 15 to the other without stopping.
"We're looking at alleviating east-west traffic congestion," Clark County Public Works spokeswoman Carolyn Potter said. "Some of the biggest problems we have are interactivity with the Strip and Interstate 15."
A 1994 Nevada Department of Transportation study showed that 227,250 vehicles per day cross the Strip at Sahara Avenue, Spring Mountain Road, Flamingo Road and Tropicana Avenue.
The study showed that about 63,000 vehicles a day cross the Strip at Sahara.
The Super Arterial is expected to pull 70,000 vehicles a day from those streets, Potter said, with about 40,000 coming off Sahara and Spring Mountain.
The $92 million road runs from Paradise Road to Valley View Boulevard, tunneling under the Strip and rising over Industrial Road, the Union Pacific Railroad, Highland Drive and Interstate 15.
The roadway took about three years to build, using about $45 million in federal funds and $47 million from a 1 percent hotel room tax levied by Clark County.
Going east from Valley View, cars and trucks have right-turn exits and entrances at Procyon, Polaris and Aldebaran avenues and Highland, Potter said. But once past Highland, there's no exit until Paradise.
West from Paradise, people can get off at Mell Avenue for Channel 8 Drive, but can't get off again until Polaris, Potter said.
The improvements on Desert Inn are hardly over. The road is being widened to six lanes and lowered below grade from Paradise to Swenson Street under a $15.8 million project funded by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
And construction is expected to begin soon on widening Desert Inn Road to six lanes from Valley View to Jones Boulevard and eventually all the way to Buffalo Drive, Potter said.
The Super Arterial is an example of the latest in road engineering and safety technology, said project engineer Ken Lambert.
Besides bells and whistles such as variable message signs and closed-circuit televisions, the project has a pump house built below ground to keep groundwater and storm runoff from collecting in the tunnel under Las Vegas Boulevard, Lambert said.
The four 50-horsepower pumps can move 85 gallons per minute, Lambert said, and the system is designed to handle a 100-year storm.
A system of collecting drains sends the water into conduits that feed into the sump in the pump house, and the pumps move the water into a 36-inch gravity pipe that drains the water east to the Flamingo Wash, he said.
If a flood or accident does occur in the tunnel, Lambert said, retractable guardrails have been installed at each end of the tunnel to allow people to make a U-turn and find another way to work or home.