Main, Commerce street project gets boost from fuel tax hike

It’s a good thing that good things come to those who wait.

The city of Las Vegas’ long-envisioned plan to turn Main and Commerce streets downtown into parallel one-way couplets is on track.

Once the project that is expected to cost at least $34 million is done, a new president will be in the White House, Resorts World Las Vegas will be open on the Strip and students entering high school next fall will be ready for their senior year.

“We thought we’d never be able to fund it,” said Ward 3 Councilman Bob Coffin, who has lived close to the neighborhood for more than 60 years.

Coffin said the city unsuccessfully applied for federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grants for three years.

Transportation funding changed in Southern Nevada last year when voters authorized the Clark County Commission to index the fuel tax to inflation, thus increasing tax revenue for transportation projects.

City Engineer David Bowers said indexing would create some $700 million for 185 projects, creating an estimated 9,000 jobs. About $8 million of that will go toward the Main Street project.

So what will the project mean for motorists?

First, there will be some changes on Main between Stewart and Garces avenues, and the center left-turn lane will go away.

South of Garces, traffic on southbound Main Street will be funneled to Commerce, which will carry two lanes of one-way traffic to just south of Oakey Boulevard, where it will rejoin Main Street.

Northbound Main traffic, meanwhile, will have two lanes one way just past Oakey, rejoining Main near Garces.

One of the biggest benefits of the plan is that with two one-way lanes in place, a choke point at Charleston Boulevard should be eliminated because traffic won’t get trapped behind vehicles attempting to make turns onto Charleston.

There are other benefits.

The project will create a safer pedestrian environment with wider sidewalks. Curb extensions will shorten street crossing distances for those on foot. Those 5-foot green-path designated bike lanes are planned for both Main and Commerce.

This is also a downtown beautification project with landscaping planned within the sidewalk areas and the medians.

Work already has begun on the project with utility companies relocating conduits along the route.

Bowers said construction would be split into two phases with the first phase, from Stewart to Bonneville, beginning in June and lasting 14 months for a fall 2015 completion.

That section is expected to cost $14 million and provide 106 full-time jobs.

The longer Bonneville-to-Main Street section would start by the end of 2015 and run 15 months, with completion in the spring of 2017.

No price tag has been placed on that phase, but Bowers estimates it would be around $20 million.

Yes, it’s going to take awhile to get the project done.

But the end result should be worth the wait.

Pedestrian Deaths

Seventy pedestrians were killed on Nevada roads last year, but the really bad news is that the 2014 death count already is ahead of last year’s pace.

So far, 20 pedestrians have been killed on streets and roads, four more than last year.

In fatal accidents, pedestrians are at fault 80 percent of the time, officials say, and the average victims are males between the ages of 18 and 54.

A coalition of two dozen law enforcement agencies statewide is stepping up enforcement of pedestrian safety laws through mid-May by issuing citations to pedestrians and motorists who violate them.

State law requires pedestrians to use sidewalks, crosswalks and pedestrian bridges and to obey all traffic-control signs and signals. If there are no sidewalks, pedestrians are required to walk on the left side of the street facing traffic.

Motorists must yield to pedestrians and avoid passing vehicles stopped for pedestrians.

Highway typos, part two

Last week, I shared that the Nevada Department of Transportation changed signs facing northbound U.S. Highway 95 motorists from Eastern “Blvd” to Eastern “Ave” as it should be. Turns out that fix only cost taxpayers $20.

But the fix of a sign on the eastbound 215 Beltway suspended from the Bradley Street overpass still has problems.

County crews fixed the sign marking the Aliante Parkway exit as “Alienate.” But they didn’t do anything about fixing the designation of the Commerce Street exit in 3½ miles.

The problem: There is no exit for Commerce Street on that highway.

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