Major I-15 paving project set to begin

Congestion along Interstate 15 is expected to worsen over the next month as the second construction project within a 10-mile stretch through the core of Las Vegas is set to start Sunday.

The Nevada Department of Transportation will embark on a round-the-clock paving job in both directions between the Spaghetti Bowl and Tropicana Avenue. It is the first time in 15 years that the interstate has been fully resurfaced.

"It will be interesting to try to pave in the heart of Las Vegas," said Mary Martini, a senior engineer with the state transportation division.

At least one lane in each direction will be closed during the "marathon paving" job, Martini said. The contractor, Fisher Sand & Gravel, must keep three lanes open, but as many as two can be closed at any given time of the day.

Starting Sunday, the work will take place from 7 p.m. Sundays until 7 a.m. Thursdays. Fisher crews are aiming to finish the $6 million project by Oct. 20.

The paving company is using a plant in Sloan to mix a crumb rubber asphalt that is made from recycled tires. The surface not only is expected to last longer than asphalt, it also provides a smoother ride with less noise, Martini said.

Martini acknowledged that the work combined with the massive overhaul of Interstate 15 between Tropicana and Blue Diamond Road is not convenient for commuters, especially because the stretch carries about 250,000 vehicles each day. She said the transportation agency opted for the 24-hour schedule to finish the job quickly.

Engineers are urging motorists to find alternate routes and at the same time trying to make the north-south commute as smooth as possible. The express lane candlesticks were removed, but those lanes will remain designated for express traffic unless work in the immediate area forces crews to divert traffic into the lanes.

Freeway Arterial System of Transportation engineers will adjust traffic signals on arterials parallel to the freeway to allow more vehicles through. Brian Hoeft, director of FAST, said his engineers will be monitoring traffic during the length of the project to see whether additional lights need to be adjusted.

Contact reporter Adrienne Packer at or 702-387-2904.