COURTESY OF THE REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION
Saturday, May 23, 2009 | 2 a.m.
Two long-discussed projects — a downtown Las Vegas bus station designed especially for bike riders, and park-and-ride terminals in the northwest — are closer to reality.
The Regional Transportation Commission this week awarded Sletten Construction a $17 million contract to build the bike-friendly transit hub at Bonneville Avenue and Casino Center Boulevard. The commission also approved a $14.8 million contract to Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. for park-and-rides at U.S. 95 and Durango Drive in the Centennial Hills area and Summerlin Parkway and Durango.
The transportation commission used about $5.5 million in federal stimulus money for the transit hub and $8.8 million of stimulus money for the park-and-ride at U.S. 95 and Durango.
Work on the Bonneville transit hub may begin as early as next month with completion in mid-2011, enabling commutes solely by bike and bus.
The 21,000-square-foot, window-walled facility will feature 16 bus bays, a bike valet with about 100 racks and a bike repair shop. For now, a lot across from Las Vegas City Hall is serving as a hub for bus lines.
People who park their bikes at the new hub will be charged a still-undetermined fee.
The park-and-rides will link to new ACExpress bus lines. The park-and-ride at U.S. 95 and Durango is scheduled to open in early 2010, RTC spokeswoman Tracy Bower said. Its unveiling will launch ACExpress’ initial line, from the northwest, down the high-occupancy lanes of U.S. 95 to downtown Las Vegas. Continuing service will link passengers to the resort corridor along the Strip and to UNLV.
The RTC says commute times from the northwest valley to downtown will shorten from more than an hour to 25 minutes for drivers who switch to ACExpress.
The park-and-ride at Summerlin and Durango is scheduled to open in late 2010.
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At a breakfast Thursday before the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, RTC General Manager Jacob Snow bemoaned the lack of money for transportation projects.
The federal gas tax is 18.4 cents a gallon. The state gas tax is 23 cents a gallon. And the local gas tax is 9 cents a gallon. None has increased in more than a decade, not even for inflation.
And since 2006 Americans have been buying less gas. In Nevada the state highway fund is being drained faster than it is being refilled.
Cities nationally are pondering transit cuts or starkly higher fees or taxes as costs outpace revenue. But the Las Vegas Valley has some breathing room, thanks to the popularity of the double-decker Deuce transit line that runs along the Strip.
The Deuce makes a $4 million annual profit, essentially subsidizing other cogs in the valley’s transit system, Snow said. (Another help: RTC raised single-trip fares in January from $1.25 to $1.75.)
Limited public money may explain why Snow supports the idea of toll roads managed by private vendors. “Tolling is a tool that we need, but public-private equity is not really available right now,” he said.
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A decision on a much-watched lawsuit by Fisher Sand and Gravel against Clark County won’t occur until next month at the earliest.
Fisher sued in the spring, angry that the Clark County Commission selected a higher bidder for construction of a segment of the northern Las Vegas Beltway — and a company not endorsed by the county’s public works department. The contract was for upgrading to freeway status a 2.5-mile stretch from near Tenaya Way to just east of Decatur Boulevard.
Fisher won a temporary restraining order in District Court against the county and Las Vegas Paving, delaying the project indefinitely. A hearing set for May 11 on whether to block the Las Vegas Paving contract was also delayed, as Las Vegas Paving sought to change judges. That effort failed.
The hearing is slated for June 2.