Las Vegas Sun

December 10, 2017

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Sun Editorial:

Strip walkway barriers deserve quick approval

There’s only one thing wrong with a new proposal to put up barrier posts to block cars from entering portions of the walkways along the Las Vegas Strip.

It doesn’t go quite far enough.

But it’s an excellent and long overdue start, so Clark County commissioners should waste no time in approving it when the proposal comes before them Tuesday.

It calls for 1,000 steel posts to be placed in unprotected areas between Flamingo Road and Park Avenue. The posts — or bollards, as they’re formally known — are designed to stand up to a collision from a 15,000-pound vehicle traveling 50 mph. If all goes smoothly, the work could be done by New Year’s Eve at a cost of $3 million to $5 million.

The need for such protection became alarmingly evident in December 2015 when a woman drove her car onto the sidewalk near Planet Hollywood, Paris and Bally’s, killing one pedestrian and injuring 35. That incident was described as a case of road rage, but since then terrorist incidents in France, Germany, England, Israel and elsewhere have made it all the more critical to beef up pedestrian safety measures along the resort corridor.

In the past, there’s been resistance to establishing barriers, with those who opposed such measures saying that putting any type of obstacles in the walkways would make it more likely for people to get around them by going closer to the street. Opponents said the answer was to widen the walkways, remove obstacles like newsstands and buskers and establish more overpasses.

Now, however, it appears there’s broad support for the barrier plan. It’s been reported that Strip resorts, Metro Police and Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak are all behind it.

Even for Las Vegans who rarely if ever set foot on the Strip, the proposal will be beneficial.

Protecting the 43 million visitors who come here annually is key to ensuring the ongoing vibrancy of the region’s economy. And given that the average Strip visitor goes to an average of six casinos during his or her stay — with many of them walking between properties — pedestrian safety is a vital part of maintaining the visitor experience that has made Las Vegas one of the world’s top travel destinations.

The barrier plan is a step in that direction, but more work needs to be done. Barriers are needed elsewhere on the Strip, and there are still places where heavily-used at-grade crosswalks create a danger.

But a thousand posts in a part of the Strip that has proven to be vulnerable is a good first step.

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