How much money do you expect will be spent on transportation projects in Southern Nevada over the next 20 years? $500 million? $1 billion? $5 billion?
Well, the Regional Transportation Commission figures it will be closer to $13.3 billion.
The Transportation Commission recently passed its 20-year Regional Transportation Plan, or RTP, which is required by the federal government in order to receive federal funding for projects.
The plan calls for $11.3 billion in streets and highway improvements, a $1 billion investment in public transit and park-and-ride systems, $387 million in intelligent transportation systems (such as the Freeway and Arterial System of Transportation), and $118 million for alternate mode, environment and air quality considerations.
Along with the RTP, the Transportation Commission also passed the Transportation Improvement Program, or TIP, which identifies projects that are expected to receive federal funding over the next four years.
The TIP acts as a sort of crystal ball for what projects we will actually see being constructed through 2012.
According to the TIP, the Transportation Commission expects about $3.3 billion to be spent on a myriad of projects in Southern Nevada.
The money being spent comes from a multitude of sources, including 50 percent from the Transportation Commission, 19 percent from the federal government, 16 percent from the state and 13 percent from private entities.
The money comes mostly from taxes and some from bonds.
The projects deal with everything from widening Interstate 15 in the southern valley to an electric bicycle program.
Here's a breakdown of some of the bigger projects the Transportation Commission has planned over the next four years:
•$1.156 billion for upgrades to the Las Vegas Beltway over the next four years. That will include widening the freeway and construction of new interchanges.
•$156.4 million was allotted to widen U.S. Highway 95 from six to eight lanes from the Rainbow Curve to Ann Road in 2011, which means messy U.S. 95 north traffic is coming back. An additional $4 million has been set aside to widen U.S. 95 from Ann Road north to Kyle Canyon Road.
•$272.9 million was budgeted for widening Interstate 15 to eight lanes from Blue Diamond Road to Tropicana Avenue.
•$108 million was designated to widen state Route 160 to four lanes, from state Route 150 to Mountain Springs, in 2009.
•$105.3 million was earmarked over the next four years to convert North Fifth Street in North Las Vegas to an eight-lane roadway with an overpass over I-15 and a new interchange with Cheyenne Avenue.
•$50 million was allocated to construct a new I-15 interchange at Cactus Avenue in 2011 and 2012.
•$41 million was budgeted to widen Lake Mead Parkway to six lanes, from Boulder Highway to the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, in 2010 and 2011.
•$7.3 million was designated to improve intersections on Rainbow Boulevard, from Desert Inn Road to Alta Drive, in 2009 and 2010.
•$3.5 million was allotted to widen Summerlin Parkway to eight lanes in 2012.
•Construction of an interchange on I-15 that will lead to the proposed Ivanpah Valley Airport in 2011 and 2012 is budgeted at $9.1 million.
•Engineering and right of way purchasing for the Ivanpah Expressway will cost $9 million over the next four years.
•Constructing Las Vegas Boulevard between Ivanpah and Jean over the next four years was budgeted at $4.9 million.
•$6 million was earmarked to widen Las Vegas Boulevard south to six lanes, from Sunset Road to St. Rose Parkway, in 2009.
•Over the next four years, the Transportation Commission plans on purchasing 82 new vehicles to expand paratransit service at a cost of about $7.3 million; 257 paratransit vehicles will be replaced at a cost of $26.7 million.
•One of the more unusual projects will encourage the use of electric bicycles for commuting purposes. The details are still being worked out, but the Transportation Commission has set aside $100,000 in federal congestion, mitigation and air quality funding for the program.
Phew, that's a lot cabbage.
Of course I can't mention all of the projects that are listed in the TIP (it's 104 pages long), but you can check it out at your leisure by visiting www.lvrj.com/rtctip.
It appears to me that the Las Vegas Valley is still a long way from becoming a motorist's utopia.