A pedestrian tunnel that runs underneath U.S. Highway 95 at Grand Teton Drive soon will be sealed off forever after a 15-year-old girl was killed nearby.
Councilman Steve Ross, who represents the area, said the death of Alyssa Otremba in September prompted Las Vegas police, public works and the Nevada Department of Transportation to close the tunnel. Now, city officials are taking a look at other tunnels that might need to be closed off.
"Alyssa Otremba's death was certainly the worst tragic thing that could have occurred to bring attention to the tunnels," Ross said. "There were reports before of assaults in that tunnel, which I wasn't aware of, and her tragic death has brought this to the forefront."
Otremba was not killed in the tunnel. But Las Vegas police said the 19-year-old accused of her slaying, Javier Righetti, told police he stalked Otremba through the tunnel, according to grand jury testimony obtained by the Review-Journal.
In that same testimony, Las Vegas police said Righetti had attacked another girl months earlier in a similar tunnel.
For two weeks, officials videotaped the use of the trail and found teenagers and vandals hanging around the Grand Teton tunnel, which Ross deems "an attractive nuisance."
Students at Arbor View High School, where Otremba attended, have used the tunnel to get to school.
A new pedestrian bridge at Grand Teton and an overpass at Durango Road give people options to cross the street.
"With those two facilities in place, there's no reason to keep that tunnel open," Ross said.
Las Vegas police have responded to graffiti calls, and firefighters have been called to put out burning tires and garbage in the tunnel.
"We're taking this seriously," Ross said.
"Whenever the government creates an attractive nuisance for kids to do bad things, we need to address that. ... Public safety has always been the city's No. 1 priority and concern."
"No Trespassing" signs are posted in the tunnel, which is part of the city's master trail system. Nearby flood control channels also are being caged, Ross added.
Funding for the sealing project probably will come from both the city and NDOT, Ross said. It is unclear exactly when the tunnel will be sealed off.
Contact reporter Kristi Jourdan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-455-4519.