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October 23, 2018

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Some Henderson residents decry Boulder City Bypass plans

Homeowners say added traffic from new road will detract from their neighborhoods

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Nevada Department of Transportation

This artist’s rendering shows what the redesigned interchange of Boulder City Bypass and U.S. 93 would look like at Railroad Pass. Railroad Pass Casino is at left. If U.S. 93 is designated an interstate between Las Vegas and Phoenix, the bypass route would become part of the interstate, officials say.

Click to enlarge photo

This Nevada Department of Transportation graphic shows the route of the proposed Boulder City Bypass. If U.S. 93 is designated an interstate between Las Vegas and Phoenix, the bypass route would become part of the interstate, officials say.

Boulder City Bypass

This Nevada Department of Transportation map shows what Phase 1 of the Boulder City Bypass would look like with the redesign. It would be upgraded to an interstate-quality interchange. The current U.S. 93 in front of Railroad Pass would become a frontage road, NDOT officials say. Launch slideshow »

Proposed frontage road

Homeowners in Henderson’s southeastern tip are upset about parts of the proposed Boulder City Bypass, but transportation officials say their complaints may be coming too late to make changes in plans first brought to the public in 2002.

Residents in the River Mountain Ranch Estates and Old Vegas neighborhoods say the current design of the new freeway will bring unwanted traffic to their streets, near where the new road will connect to the existing Interstate 515. They also claim the Nevada Department of Transportation and the city have put the wants of Boulder City residents above their safety.

The first round of public meetings and a comment period was held in 2002. Another set of meetings and a comment period was held in 2005, when the Environmental Impact Statement was completed and both NDOT and the Federal Highway Administration signed off on plans for the road.

Many of the homes in Old Vegas, which was once the site of an amusement park, were not built until after 2002, so the residents weren't involved in the public hearings.

But Henderson Assistant Director of Public Works Robert Herr says officials can’t change the established plans because a group of people missed the initial comment period.

“This is under federal guidelines so we can’t just … say we’ll do away with the frontage road because there’s other people involved,” he said.

Area residents are still frustrated, saying that city and transportation officials aren’t concerned about how the project might affect them.

“One of our big questions here is: Why is Henderson throwing us under the trucks?” Old Vegas resident Francis Zitko said.

Design plans for the roadway –- which is still years away from construction –- include a frontage road to connect Foothills Drive in Henderson to Railroad Pass.

Residents are concerned the road, which is being built to relieve truck traffic through Boulder City after the Hoover Dam bypass bridge is completed, will bring large trucks to their residential streets, lowering their property values and making their neighborhood less safe.

“We are trying to start a family. We bought a house on a cul-de-sac so we could be safe, and now we have a freeway dumping traffic into our neighborhood,” said Scott Handley, who moved into the Old Vegas neighborhood in 2006 with his wife, Vanessa, who is now pregnant.

“We bought when the market was high and we’re sucking up the high payments as the value has dropped. Now this is going to hurt us even more,” he said.

The Handleys joined about 100 other residents at a meeting Wednesday night, hosted by the River Mountain Estates Homeowners Association, where NDOT Senior Project Manager Glenn Petrenko gave a presentation about the planned road.

Herr said at the meeting that the frontage road was added to the freeway plans at the request of Boulder City residents during the initial public comment period back in 2002.

“There was concern, mostly from the Boulder City residents, that if there was this freeway system put through, the only way to get from Boulder City into the Las Vegas Valley was on a freeway,” Herr said. “There are many elderly residents in Boulder City and they did not feel comfortable having to get on a freeway in order to do their doctor visits or whatever their trips to the Las Vegas Valley would be.”

But the Henderson residents said they don’t want their neighborhood affected by the will of Boulder City residents.

“I think the atmosphere here is we really don’t want to be an artery at any level for people who don’t want to take the freeway,” Zitko said.

The frontage road would connect to Foothills Drive. To continue to the freeway, motorists would have to take Old Vegas Trail to Wagon Wheel Drive.

Zitko said Old Vegas Trail, which becomes Boulder Highway after passing Wagon Wheel, is wide enough to handle more traffic for future growth in Henderson.

“(But) I doubt this road was built the width it is to accommodate people from the city next door,” Zitko said.

Petrenko and Herr said the frontage road is needed as an alternative to the freeway so local residents can move through the city -- for example, people in Old Vegas going to Railroad Pass -- without going on the freeway.

“(The complaints) caught us a little bit off guard, because for the frontage road, we don’t anticipate many people using it,” Herr said. “But you can’t load all local traffic onto a freeway.”

The frontage road would be built by NDOT as part of construction of the freeway, but after completion would be turned over to the city.

Herr said after the meeting that once the road is complete, Henderson officials could make adjustments to the road, such as posting signs banning trucks from going through the neighborhood.

The residents have another bone to pick with NDOT: They said they weren’t notified of the July 9 meeting held in Boulder City.

“I apologize; the neighborhood was not notified and should have been,” Petrenko said at Wednesday’s meeting.

NDOT spokesman Bob Mckenzie said the Boulder City meeting was advertised in local newspapers. Petrenko said the meeting wasn’t a required forum, but was organized to notify residents of changes made to the original design of the roadway since the previous meetings.

Herr also stressed in the Wednesday meeting that the freeway is still years away from being constructed and the transportation department will take the residents' concerns into consideration.

Funding for the road has yet to be identified. The first phase of the project, which includes the interchange at Railroad Pass and the frontage road, won't be built until at least 2011. The main part of the road around Boulder City won't be built until 2025 or later, Petrenko said.

“We’ve got a long way to go on this project. Before we do anything with moving dirt or anything like that we’re going to have more meetings. We’re going to try to make sure we address this situation, but we can’t solve it tonight,” Herr said.

Herr and Petrenko promised that concerns would be taken into account.

“You’re behind the process but your comments will be considered,” Petrenko told the audience. “This is going to be a process over the years. … We will work with the city and determine what is the best solution for the frontage road.”

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