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October 20, 2019

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County moves to fortify Strip sidewalks to protect pedestrians

Budweiser Clydesdales on the Strip

Glenn Pinkerton/Las Vegas News Bureau

Crowds line the streets as the world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales arrive to kick off festivities for the Big Game with a parade down the Las Vegas Strip to BEER PARK at Paris Las Vegas. Sunday, February 5, 2017.

It’s all too easy for a vehicle to become a deadly weapon, and Clark County is looking to better protect the thousands of pedestrians on the Las Vegas Strip.

Clark County commissioners on Tuesday gave staff the green light to pursue bids to install 700 bollards along parts of Las Vegas Boulevard. The permanent steel posts, which would be equidistant apart and connected to one another underneath the sidewalk, are designed to withstand the impact of a 15,000-pound vehicle — think a 30-foot moving truck — traveling at 50 miles per hour.

Public Works director Denis Cederburg estimates the total cost of the project to be $5 million. Each bollard costs $3,600, including installation. The county hopes to purchase 700 bollards for immediate installation along stretches of sidewalk between Spring Mountain Road and Tropicana Avenue, and an additional 500 for yet-to-be-determined locations.

Click to enlarge photo

Bollards similar to the ones the Clark County Commission is having installed along the Las Vegas Strip.

Money for the project will come from the existing 1 percent room tax. Chairman Steve Sisolak said the board also should look into whether some fuel-revenue index tax funds, which support infrastructure improvements, might be diverted.

Sisolak stressed that the project needs to be expedited: “This is a matter of life or death.”

Cederburg says the current goal is to award the contract for the bollard project at the commission’s July 18 meeting. Installations would be done over a five-week period this fall.

The project already has the support of Metro Police because of its public safety component.

“In the last 12 months, there have been eight incidents around the world,” said Assistant Sheriff Todd Fasulo, adding that terrorist groups are now promoting the use of vehicles as weapons. “As a public safety issue, this is an important item for the sheriff to get done.”

In December 2015, an Oregon woman drove her 1996 Oldsmobile onto a sidewalk on Las Vegas Boulevard near Paris Las Vegas and Planet Hollywood, killing one and injuring at least 34 others. Reports said the vehicle drove on and off the sidewalk numerous times. A decade before that, in 2005, a Californian drove a stolen Buick onto the sidewalk near Bally’s. Two were killed and 11 injured.

Last year, in July, a semi-truck plowed through a fireworks celebration in Nice, France. More than 80 people died and hundreds more were injured in the terrorist attack.

Last month, a maroon Honda Accord driven by a 26-year-old veteran with a history of drunken driving plowed down three blocks of sidewalk in Manhattan. One died. At least 22 were injured.

Last week, a van drove onto the sidewalk along the London Bridge, killing one person.

Commissioner Susan Brager said that whether it’s terrorism, drunken driving or an unforeseeable medical episode, collisions between vehicles and pedestrians are bound to happen.

“I myself was a victim of a drunk driver,” she said. “If there had been bollards, I wouldn’t have spent four months in the hospital. I’m fortunate. I’m a victim that’s alive. Many people have lost their lives. … We’re doing everything we can so it never happens again.”

Nevada Resort Association President Virginia Valentine expressed support from the Strip properties.

“Visitor safety is the highest priority for us,” she told the commissioners. “This is a great investment in tourism safety.”

Although the project did receive unanimous support from the commissioners, several noted minor concerns about whether the bollards would look uniform or reflect the individual properties in front of them. State law prohibits advertising in right-of-ways, but Cederburg says steel decorative sleeves can be placed around them. Such additions would be paid for by the resorts.

There also were concerns about how narrowing the sidewalk to accommodate the bollards might impact pedestrian flow.

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