Thursday, July 13, 2000 | 10:15 a.m.
What is now miles of desert speckled with a few housing developments in North Las Vegas will soon be home to a major thoroughfare, the northern leg of the Las Vegas Beltway.
It may be an inevitable part of growth, but North Las Vegas resident Carly Pajak can't fathom the idea of a four-lane beltway stretching through her neighborhood, where coyotes and foxtail usually run.
Pajak and her husband, Steve, were among a handful of residents who attended a public meeting at the North Las Vegas Airport Wednesday to discuss the beltway.
The northern section of the beltway, on which construction is to begin next March, will link North Las Vegas to a freeway system that eventually will almost encircle the Las Vegas Valley. It will be about 53 miles long and cost $1.5 billion. Construction is expected to continue for 25 years.
The northern portion will initially consist of four at-grade asphalt lanes, two in each direction. Ultimately, it will be transformed into a six-lane depressed freeway, said Mike Hand, principal civil engineer for Clark County.
North Las Vegas officials are hoping the beltway will be the key to new development proposed on 7,500 acres of BLM land in the northwestern area of the city.
Many of the residents attending Wednesday's meeting were resigned to the beltway's construction and focused on how to keep their neighborhoods safe and noise-free when cars begin to infiltrate the area.
The Pajaks say they hope the beltway will help control the flow of traffic near their home at Centennial Parkway and Rome Boulevard, where they have lived for 15 years. As new developments pop up, so do the number of cars.
Several residents had concerns about where the off-ramps and on-ramps will be, and how close they will be to development. Tentatively, the off-ramps along the northern beltway are planned for Simmons Street, North Fifth Street, Losee Road, Pecos Road and Lamb Boulevard.
Las Vegas resident Robert Southerland said he and his wife are having trouble finding vacant land to build a new home near the beltway because of the rapid development.
"We're trying to get out here where the horses are, but there's no place left to ride the horses," he said. "(The developers) are putting up these cracker-boxes as fast as they can."