Las Vegas Sun

December 6, 2019

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New lanes to open next week as ‘Big Squeeze’ ends early

The Big Squeeze Begins

L.E. Baskow

Traffic flows smoothly on the first morning of “Big Squeeze” lane closures related to Project Neon, a nearly $1 billion 3.7-mile-long widening of Interstate 15 from the U.S. 95 interchange to Sahara Avenue, on March 21, 2017.

The squeeze on Las Vegas Valley roads involved with Project Neon will loosen its grip earlier than planned.

Originally scheduled to finish in January, the final touches of the “Big Squeeze” portion of the nearly $1 billion road project will begin to open this weekend, the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) announced Thursday.

The new U.S. 95 southbound lanes will open to traffic by 8 a.m. Sunday, while new U.S. 95 northbound lanes will open to traffic by 6 a.m. Wednesday.

Timing is right for the early finish of the “Big Squeeze,” which began in March. The new lanes will be open just before the busy holiday weekend.

“We are excited about reopening this busy, crucial stretch of freeway nearly two months early, prior to Thanksgiving and Black Friday,” NDOT spokesman Tony Illia said. “It will create a tangible economic boon for local businesses along the project corridor, providing improved access and enhanced mobility prior to the busiest shopping days of the year.”

Design-build general contractor Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. will earn more than $5 million in early-completion incentive bonuses.

“We’re pleased with the contractor’s project performance thus far, especially their commitment and dedication to quality, safety, outreach and execution,” Illia said.

When it is completed, Project Neon will reduce travel delays by nearly 30 percent for a $110 million annual savings through increased productivity, Illia said. It will enhance air quality by reducing idle time and improve safety by reducing lane changes, he said.

The Big Squeeze affected up to 10,000 drivers per hour in peak commuting times, far more than the first phase of Project Neon, “Car-Nado,” which affected up to 2,000 riders per hour.

The major feature of the latest work is the 81-foot-tall, 2,606-foot-long high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) flyover structure joining U.S. 95 and Interstate 15. The 18-span, two-lane precast concrete bridge is supported by 19 columns and will help create 22 adjoining miles of carpool lanes between U.S. 95 and I-15.

The third and final phase of Project Neon, the 3.7-mile-long widening of Interstate 15 from the U.S. 95 interchange to Sahara Avenue, is scheduled to start in early March. Work on this portion will affect lanes on I-15 until mid-November 2018.

During this same timeframe, the ramp from U.S. 95 southbound to I-15 southbound will be modified and reduced to one lane.

NDOT has not yet chosen the name for the third phase of Project Neon.