Las Vegas Sun

December 19, 2018

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If a freeway isn’t under construction now, it might be down the road

Even though it sometimes doesn't feel like it, not every stretch of Las Vegas Valley freeway is under construction. That said, if it doesn't have cones on it now, it likely will in the future.

Although growth has slowed, transportation officials are still playing catch-up with the not-so-long-ago boom, on top of planning for growth (even if it is 10, 20 or 50 years away).

Many major roads are under construction, including Interstate 15 in the southern valley, U.S. 95 in the northwest and Summerlin Parkway where it meets U.S. 95.

More work is planned for just about every freeway in the valley. Some of those projects start in a few months, while others won't happen for a decade or more.

Road projects are normally funded with a mix of state and federal money, usually from gas taxes. But funding for many future projects remain unidentified and the Transportation Department says it will have a $5.5 billion shortfall through 2016, putting many large projects in question.

Here are the major freeway construction projects the Nevada Transportation Department and Clark County have in their long-term plans:

    • Interstate 15
      Photo by Steve Marcus

      Interstate 15 north

      The Transportation Department has big plans for Interstate 15 north of Las Vegas.

      Work on the freeway from the Spaghetti Bowl to Craig Road was completed about 18 months ago, but the department wants make improvements further north.

      The department plans to widen the freeway from Craig Road to Speedway Boulevard, with construction beginning in 2013 to 2015. That project is expected to cost $105 million to $140 million.

      Then there is work out of the valley. The department hopes to widen the freeway from Speedway Boulevard to Apex after 2015. That project is expected to cost from $88 million to $101 million.

      In addition, the department hopes to redo I-15’s interchange with the northern Las Vegas Beltway between 2015 and 2017, which will cost $130 million to $140 million.

      But before any of that happens, the department has to go back and undo something from the last project. West Las Vegas residents were angry when F Street was closed under the freeway, even though access under the interstate is available two blocks over, at D Street.

      The Legislature got involved and passed a law requiring the department to work with the city to reopen the road, but the project is expected to cost more than $21 million. Design work is under way and construction will likely take place in 2013 or 2014.

    • The Spaghetti Bowl
      Photo by Steve Marcus/Sun File Photo

      Project Neon

      This is the big project state officials have been talking about for years, but no one is sure yet how or when it will happen.

      Project Neon would widen I-15 from Sahara Avenue to the Spaghetti Bowl, the busiest stretch of freeway in the state. Plus, it will add a ramp to the Spaghetti Bowl, directly connecting the U.S. 95 high-occupancy vehicle lanes with the express lanes on I-15. It will also reconfigure a number of side roads, including Grand Central Parkway and Charleston Boulevard near the freeway.

      But to get it done, the Transportation Department needs at least $1.4 billion, and maybe as much as $1.9 billion, partially because of the number of homes and businesses that will have to be bought and moved to make room for the wider freeway.

      The project has been broken up into a number of phases. The department has just begun buying land. If everything goes according to plan, work on the first phase will begin next year; other phases might not begin for a decade or more.

    • Sunset Road Bridge
      Photo by Courtesy Julie Duewel/Nevada Department of Transportation

      Interstate 15 south

      Crews are busy working on I-15 in the southern valley as the department is widening the freeway from Blue Diamond Road to Tropicana Avenue, but just like in the north, the department hopes to extend the widening project in the future.

      The next phase of work will be widening I-15 from Blue Diamond to Sloan Road. That project doesn’t have a target date yet, but estimates are that it will cost $418.5 million to $443.5 million.

      Then, the state hopes to widen I-15 to eight lanes from Sloan to the California border. That project also doesn’t have a timeline yet, but will cost $156 million to $250 million.

      The department plans to add interchanges to the freeway in the southern valley. The Cactus Avenue interchange project is scheduled to begin in 2014 and will cost more than $85 million. The Starr Avenue interchange is scheduled to be built in 2016 to 2020 and will cost $77.5 million to $106.5 million. And then a replacement interchange at Sloan Road will cost more than $211 million, but isn’t scheduled yet.

    • Transportation
      Photo by Richard Brian/Sun File Photo

      U.S. 95 / U.S. 93 / Interstate 515

      Another huge, but far-off, project is the plan to widen Interstate 515 from the Spaghetti Bowl to Foothills Drive. The total cost is expected to be $2.8 billion to $3.2 billion. The Transportation Department says work on the project won’t start until 2026 at the earliest.

      In the northwest, U.S. 95 is under construction from Washington Avenue to Ann Road, but once that is done, the Transportation Department hopes to continue work to the north. The second phase will be from Ann Road to Kyle Canyon Road, an $81 million to $92 million project without a start date.

      The department also hopes to build interchanges at U.S. 95 and the Las Vegas Beltway, which will cost $233 million to $290 million, and at U.S. 95 and Kyle Canyon Road, a $35.5 million to $41 million project. Neither has a target date yet.

    • Bypass
      Photo by Sam Morris

      Boulder City Bypass

      After the Hoover Dam Bypass opened last fall, Boulder City found its roads crowded as truck traffic returned to the shorter route between Las Vegas and Phoenix. The Transportation Department has wanted to build a freeway around Boulder City for years, but the money hasn’t materialized.

      The first phase of the project is set to get under way soon, but it will only add a few miles of freeway and a new interchange where U.S. 93 and U.S. 95 split near Railroad Pass. This phase will cost $173 million to $213 million and should begin construction late next year.

      The second phase will be the actual freeway around Boulder City. That part of the project is still a long way off and is expected to cost $352 million to $850 million. Supporters say it may happen soon since the Legislature passed a bill allowing the road to be the first toll road in the state. But the exact details of how a toll road will work, and who is going to pay for it, are still to be worked out.

    • Las Vegas Beltway
      Photo by Justin M. Bowen

      Las Vegas Beltway

      Clark County, not the Transportation Department, remains responsible for most of the Las Vegas Beltway. The county is working to upgrade the portions of the beltway in the northern valley that aren’t yet up to freeway standards, including building an interchange at North Fifth Street.

      Work on upgrading the beltway from Tenaya Way to Decatur Boulevard should start this year and will cost $116.8 million.

      The final section to be upgraded is between Cheyenne Avenue and U.S. 95. That project still is in early design and doesn’t have a cost or schedule available yet, county officials say.

      In the southern valley, the county and the Transportation Department are working to improve the section of beltway that gets the most traffic. That project will first widen the beltway from I-15 to Windmill Lane and improve the Warm Springs Road interchange, costing $30 million to $33 million, with work beginning this year.

      The second phase will be reconstruction of the airport connector interchange. That phase will cost about $107 million and is scheduled to begin construction in 2014.

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