Friday, Dec. 5, 2008 | midnight
Interstate 15 could resemble a 13-mile-long parking lot at times next year when a widening project begins south of Tropicana Avenue while the north corridor construction continues into 2010.
The Nevada Department of Transportation plans to begin construction next summer on the first phase of the south corridor project, which widens the freeway to five lanes in each direction from Tropicana to Blue Diamond Road and adds an overpass at Sunset Road.
The north corridor construction, from the Spaghetti Bowl Interchange to Craig Road, is scheduled to end in March 2010, causing lane closures and traffic snarls throughout the densely-traveled channel for months.
Construction on the first phase of the south corridor project should take two years to complete, said John Terry, project manager for NDOT.
The scope of the project studied 12 miles from Tropicana to Sloan Road including Las Vegas Boulevard South. Eventually, NDOT will add interchanges at Bermuda Road, Starr and Cactus avenues; an overpass at Pebble Road, reconstructed overpasses at Warm Springs Road and at Sloan; and a park-and-ride lot on the southwest corner of St. Rose Parkway and Las Vegas Boulevard.
The second phase would affect a pair of businesses on Pebble on the east side of the freeway and an apartment complex at Starr on the west side. The agency would also have to move 35 single-family homes and soundwalls would be added to protect the remaining residences south of Blue Diamond.
Las Vegas Boulevard South would be widened to three lanes in each direction from Warm Springs to Sloan. Although NDOT included the boulevard in its study, the county is responsible for any improvements on it.
The preliminary estimated cost of the first phase is $260 million, Terry said. NDOT has funding only for the first phase and there are no specifics on the second phase.
"We don't have funding for all of it, but it's spread out in the 20-year plan when we do the rest of it," he said. "They're a number of years off."
At a Nov. 13 meeting with neighbors, Station Casinos Inc. announced preliminary plans for its Cactus Station resort. The company owns about 70 acres northwest of Cactus and Las Vegas Boulevard South.
Station Casinos likely would build concurrent with the Cactus interchange, but has no specific timeline, spokeswoman Lori Nelson said.
The road projects are intended to relieve congestion in the south corridor.
At the southern end of the corridor, average daily two-way traffic volumes on I-15 are forecast to increase from 42,000 vehicles in 2003 to 156,000 by 2030.
At Tropicana, average daily volumes are expected to rise from 223,000 vehicles to 430,000 during the same period.
Silverado resident Linda Dey was disappointed the Cactus interchange would not be part of the initial phase.
She wants the interchange because she said it would increase the value of her property on the east side of the freeway.
She's been a resident since 1972 and wants to return to a rural area where she can ride her horses without the hustle and bustle of the encroaching city.
"Bring it on," she said. "We're going to take our horses and move someplace where they value horses."
Jeff Pope can be reached at 990-2688 or firstname.lastname@example.org.