Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2008 | 1:54 p.m.
Construction crews worked overnight to finish off barriers and to bring power to traffic lights to open the Lake Mead Boulevard interchange on the 215 Beltway on Friday.
Motorists can now enter the beltway headed north or south and exit it traveling east on Lake Mead.
The rush to add the finishing touches was a mandate from county officials to open the $12.4 million interchange as soon as possible rather than stick to the original plan of leaving it barricaded until 2010. The plan to delay the opening was intended to prevent traffic from flooding the Sun City Summerlin area while two more interchanges were built further south on the beltway.
County Commissioners heeded the will of the majority of residents who wanted the interchange open based on phone calls and e-mails commissioners received during the summer.
The county set up a hotline to record comments about the interchange and received 175 messages. Of those, 14 were against opening it. Each of the seven commissioners also received an average of 55 e-mails, with two to four against the opening.
Sun City Summerlin residents Allen Gottleib and Cam Stewart said the new interchange would be good for motorists, even if it means more traffic for the community.
"It's there. It's complete. All the money has been spent on it, we might as well use it," Gottleib said.
Stewart added, "there'll be a few more people coming down that way, but it won't be that bad."
No traffic has ever used the nearly half-mile stretch of Lake Mead from the Beltway east to Thomas W. Ryan Boulevard. Construction barriers have blocked it since it was paved in the 1990s. And with no road to the west of the beltway, the Lake Mead intersection did not stop traffic like the signaled Far Hills and Summerlin Parkway intersections did.
Allowing traffic on that stretch irked some community residents, who said crime and pollution in the area would increase.
The city will try to keep traffic flowing safely with a new traffic signal at the intersection of Lake Mead and Thomas W. Ryan.
Board members of the Sun City Summerlin homeowners association worked out an informal deal two years ago with the county and city to leave Lake Mead closed to traffic until the beltway interchanges at Far Hills Avenue and Summerlin Parkway are complete and development starts west of the beltway.
The Far Hills interchange is scheduled to be finished in February, but Summerlin Parkway won't be complete until 2010. Both will open as soon as they are completed.
Jeff Pope can be reached at 990-2688 or [email protected].