Monday, April 25, 2005 | 11:02 a.m.
Some commuters in the southeast valley will have reason to rejoice early Tuesday.
NDOT Deputy Director Rudy Malfabon, joined by Henderson mayor Jim Gibson and Regional Transportation Commission chairman Bruce Woodbury, this morning unveiled a new interchange connecting U.S. 95 with Interstate 215 in Henderson. This most recent connector is expected to open to the driving public about 2 a.m. Tuesday, project manager Scott Rawlins said.
It is the first new ramp to open in the years-long project some have called the "Henderson Spaghetti Bowl." Woodbury, also a county commissioner representing much of Henderson, said the interchange will be "spaghetti without the heartburn."
"This is a very big day," Woodbury said of the newest part of the project.
Once it is completely finished the interchange will be "state-of-the-art," he said.
The most recent stage of the $82 million project -- funded by Clark County, Henderson, the Regional Transportation Commission, the Federal Highway Administration and NDOT -- will detour drivers from eastbound and westbound Lake Mead Parkway to the final I-215 westbound lanes. New eastbound freeway lanes are also expected to open sometime this week, followed by an interchange at Gibson Road is expected to open sometime in late June or July, Rawlins said.
"Hallelujah," said Deborah Miracle, who manages a Speedy Mart on South Gibson Road at I-215.
Like several other business owners and managers along streets that back up to the construction, Miracle said she regularly hears customers complain about navigating the tangled web of cars often sitting idle on the highway.
Miracle said her convenience store is a regular stop for tourists on their way to Hoover Dam.
"When they try to get to Hoover Dam, I just tell them they have to go through it," she said.
Speaking at the press conference this morning, Gibson said the project was moving along "as smoothly as it could."
"There are a couple times I wish I didn't have to go through it but it is an important project," the Henderson mayor said. "It's going to be inconvenient anytime you have a project like this in an area this congested."
The final project will allow commuters on northbound U.S. 95 to access I-215 without crossing an intersection.
The interchange, which now sees about 133,000 vehicles a day, is expected to see about 222,000 by 2023, officials said. It was the second-largest contract awarded in NDOT history.
The project began in September 2003 and is expected to be finished in January.
For drivers like Miracle, the end can't come too soon and the opening of the one ramp gives her renewed hope.
"I'm looking forward to that new ramp opening up," she said. "I'd like to be one of the first cars on it."