Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2010 | 2:05 a.m.
Beyond the Sun
The Nevada Department of Transportation’s plans to eventually build a Starr Avenue interchange on Interstate 15 in the southern valley got mixed reactions from residents on Tuesday.
The department wants the interchange to provide a new east-west arterial, connecting two sides of the valley that are largely isolated. The department held a public meeting at the Southern Highlands Preparatory School to present plans to residents.
Daniel Holden said he can’t wait for the project. The real estate developer bought vacant commercial land near Las Vegas Boulevard and Starr Avenue in 2004.
“I’d like to see the interchange built as soon as possible,” he said. “It’s really hampering development. If this was built, it would really help the area grow.”
The area between I-15 and Las Vegas Boulevard, between the M Resort and the South Point, is largely undeveloped but is zoned for similar resorts.
“This is major resort property. It needs to be developed to build the economy,” Holden said.
The Starr Avenue project and a similar one at nearby Cactus Avenue would provide much-needed connections to an area largely cut off from freeway access. It would also connect the neighborhoods to the east and west of the freeway and could include lanes for a rapid transit bus line.
The city of Henderson — just east of the proposed project — the county and the state would all like to see the project happen, but no money has been found for construction.
“There’s billions of dollars they’re putting out for stimulus projects,” Holden said. “I’d just like to see Henderson and the county get together and get our guys in Washington to get some earmarks for this.”
The project is expected to cost at least $32 million, but that figure could increase, especially if the project takes a long time to get started, Project Manager Robert Kvam said.
The transportation department has found $11 million for the preliminary engineering and expects the design work to continue for the next four years, but that’s as far as the funding or timeline has been figured out, Kvam said.
“We’re going to move forward as best we can,” he said.
There is a downside to the project.
“It will impact people,” Kvam said. “It’s a tricky situation because to do a full interchange takes more space than we have.”
Bryan Lebo and some of his neighbors are worried they may lose their homes for the interchange to be built.
“They’re either going to tear it down or they’ll build a sound wall in the back,” Lebo said.
He bought his home in 2007 but didn’t find out about the project until two years later. Lebo thinks the project would benefit the community; he’s just not sure how and when he’s going to be affected.
“It’s a good idea but I don’t want to get stuck living with a 25-foot sound wall in my back,” he said. “We still don’t know much. It’s a huge time frame. It’s all real cloudy — clear as mud.”