After a long flight, Fido might need a potty break just as much as his human companion.
Three spots have been designated as where pit bulls, poodles and other pooches can piddle near airline gates at McCarran International Airport.
When nature calls, travelers can take their dogs and cats to enclosed pet relief areas equipped with a stretch of fake grass, red fire hydrants made of plastic and a red biohazard bin for tossing out waste-filled bags.
Airport officials spent $400,000 to equip the new stations, which opened Wednesday afternoon just past the security checkpoints near Gate E-11 inside Terminal 3, near Gate C-25 in Terminal 1 and near a children’s play area in the midfield D-Gates.
The airport opened several outdoor pet potty areas in 2009, but the new indoor facilities were needed as a way to help travelers who already checked into their flight, or stopped off in Las Vegas to connect with another city, McCarran spokeswoman Christina Crews said.
Las Vegas joins several airports across the country with pet relief areas, including Los Angeles, Denver, Miami, Atlanta, Honolulu and Dallas.
“It’s certainly a need because we’re seeing more and more people traveling with their pets,” Crews said.
Pet owners are encouraged to clean up after their animals use the grass turf, but there are other methods to keep smells, germs and residue from building up.
A ventilation system vacuums the air about 10 times per hour, Crews said. A self-cleaning sprinkler system washes the fake grass area, then flushes and drains the water. Maintenance crews also regularly scrub the rooms.
After an hourlong flight Thursday, Joseph and Nelva Rasalan of San Jose, California, ducked into a relief room with their chihuahuas Chester, Chelsea and Jade. The dogs frolicked and nervously sniffed the artificial turf, unsure whether it was safe to use.
Chester and Chelsea weren’t having any part of it. After some hesitation, Jade bravely squatted to do her business.
“We always carry a newspaper and find a location where there isn’t a lot of people so they can go to the bathroom,” Joseph Rasalan said. “Pets are just like family, so having this room for them is pretty great.”
FREEWAY FEDERAL FUNDING
Rich from Las Vegas wanted to know whether federal funds are part of a $33.8 million project underway to add one lane in each direction of Interstate 15 between Craig Road and Speedway Boulevard in North Las Vegas.
“I was led to believe interstate highways were funded by the federal government,” Rich wrote in an email to the Road Warrior. “Why is it being talked about as a Nevada Department of Transportation project, which means my fuel tax dollars are paying for this?”
The project is federally funded, NDOT spokesman Tony Illia said. Nevada will receive $1.9 billion in federal money over five years — that breaks down to $385 million annually — to pay for freeway improvements across the state.
The project is expected to be completed by early 2018, Illia said. About 41,600 vehicles travel daily along I-15 between Craig and Speedway, a number expected to increase by 71 percent by 2033.
Wes from Las Vegas wanted to know why lanes were blocked on Cliff Shadows Parkway after city crews recently completed a project to widen the street between Alexander Road and the 215 Beltway in the northwest.
It turns out two separate projects are underway by the city and a private developer.
Even though crews widened the street, they still had to do some striping and electrical work, Las Vegas spokeswoman Margaret Kurtz said.
Separately, a developer is building a road to accommodate a nearby residential project that’s under construction.
Both sides are coordinating their work, and should wrap up by mid-April, Kurtz said.
HELP ON THE HORIZON
Mike from Henderson says Horizon Drive is pretty rough and in need of repair between Boulder Highway and U.S. Highway 95.
Designs are underway to upgrade this stretch of Horizon, with construction expected in early 2018, Henderson spokeswoman Kim Becker said.