Maryland Parkway plans studied

Maryland Parkway could be the site of the valley's latest bus rapid transit route as the Regional Transportation Commission reviews ways motorists and buses interact on the valley's second busiest public transit route.

Eight different plans are being considered by the transportation commission following a study by engineering group G.C. Wallace Inc.

The plans range from doing very little to Maryland Parkway with no construction costs to a $218 million plan to build dedicated lanes for buses.

All of the plans call for nearly $20 million in upgraded buses, similar to the sleek rail-style Ace buses that traverse Las Vegas Boulevard North.

Route 109, which extends north and south mainly on Maryland Parkway, with 4.9 million riders, was the second busiest transit route in 2008.

Only the Deuce on Las Vegas Boulevard, with 12.1 million riders, had more, said Tracy Bower, a spokeswoman for the transportation commission.

The Maryland route "is a very well traveled transit line, and anything we can do to increase capacity for transit use would be a benefit to riders," Bower said.

Bus routes on Flamingo Road and Charleston Boulevard had the third and fourth most riders in 2008, respectively.

The study by Wallace details plans that range from simply enhancing bus service to completely overhauling Maryland Parkway by building dedicated transit lanes down the center of the road.

In the study, engineers from Wallace recommended plans known as Alternative 5 and Alternative 5A. Both would call for dedicated bus lanes running along the east and west curbs of Maryland, with Alternative 5A adding an exclusive lane down the center of Maryland between Flamingo and Tropicana Avenue near the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Both of those plans would have three lanes for mixed use traffic in each direction.

The plans are costly, with construction and right of way costs near $160 million for Alternative 5; $165 million for Alternative 5A.

The 20-year costs for the projects, which would include construction and right of way costs, operating expenses and the purchase of new buses would be $273 million for Alternative 5 and $287 million for Alternative 5A.

In a letter to the transportation commission, the city of Las Vegas objected to portions of the study because they didn't show a plan that would extend bus service to Cashman Center, "which has been identified for redevelopment."

One of the city's plans that was included in the study, called Alternative 5C, would add about $4 million to the construction cost of Alternative 5 to extend the route, according to Wallace bean counters.

There is no timeline for when any of the plans will be chosen or implemented, Bower said.

Right now, the transportation commission's priorities are completing bus rapid transit lines downtown and on Boulder Highway.

The Wallace study recognized funding limitations and suggested whatever plan is chosen could be phased in.

Alternative 5 "can be phased relatively easily, as additional travel lanes can be added to the outside of a street section as public sector funding permits, or as redevelopment opportunities allow," the study states.

Contact reporter Francis McCabe at or 702-387-2904.