Thursday, Dec. 3, 2009 | 2:05 a.m.
Beyond the Sun
The Nevada Department of Transportation is developing plans to widen Interstate 515 and make other improvements to the freeway that connects Las Vegas and Henderson.
While the project is still likely 15 or more years away, some of the road’s neighbors got a chance to express their concerns at a public meeting Wednesday night at the Las Vegas Library.
The project will widen the road to 10 lanes — five in each direction instead of the current three — for most of the road, from the Spaghetti Bowl to Foothills Drive in Henderson.
Plans also call for new interchanges at Sahara Avenue and Pecos Road to relieve traffic on Charleston Boulevard and a new interchange at F Street to provide access to Symphony Park.
The $3.2 billion project is in the early planning stages. The transportation department hopes to prepare the draft environmental impact statement over the next year and get approval from the federal government by mid 2011.
And even if all goes according to plan, the project still is not expected to begin until at least 2026, when funding comes available, according to the regional transportation plan.
But getting the planning done early gives the department the opportunity to quickly begin work if funding becomes available sooner, NDOT officials said.
“If I have this done, any funding that comes in means I can put people to work, in addition to relieving congestion faster,” said project manager Ed Miranda.
In addition, the project could be broken into smaller sections and be built gradually as funding becomes available, Miranda said.
“What we do know is that there is a consistent need for this project,” Miranda said.
But a wider freeway comes at a high cost to the hundreds of people who may have their homes or businesses bought by the state for the project.
Some of those people attended the meeting and expressed their concerns.
Lazaro Barron said his neighborhood, which backs up to the freeway near Sahara Avenue, has fallen into disrepair because neighbors don't want to make improvements if they are eventually going to have to move.
He said he is tired of waiting for the project to begin years after first hearing about it, but it is likely that he will be stuck in his house until work begins in the late 2020s.
“After all this, I just want to get out of my house,” he said. “But who wants to buy the house if they know about this?”