Like Cars Through The Hourglass ...


This week, readers want to know whether a Las Vegas Beltway pinch point will ever become unstrangled, and what in the heck is being built around the southern Beltway/Interstate 15 interchange.

And the Road Warrior gets a double dose of bad news about drivers from the north end of the valley.

Randy Campanale asks: What is Clark County doing about the bottleneck on the Beltway over the narrow bridge at Decatur Boulevard? It's backed up eastbound in the morning, and westbound in the afternoon.

It sure is.

A Beltway bridge over Decatur carries only two lanes of traffic in each direction, when the Beltway itself is three lanes east of Decatur. The result is a traffic pinch point that's driving Randy and other drivers nuts.

The good news is, there is a project in the works to replace that span with a bridge that's three lanes in each direction. If all goes as planned, work could start before year's end with a new bridge opening to the motoring public by late 2008, according to Bobby Shelton, a spokesman with the county's public works department, which is building the Beltway.

The bad news is, that pinch point is unavoidable for Beltway-goers in the meantime.

"There's nothing we can really do at this time," Shelton said.

A cost estimate for the new bridge will depend on project bidding expected later this year.

Some might ask why the bridge was only two lanes each way in the first place. When the span was first designed and built in the 1990s, Shelton said, it was approved for only two lanes each way, per federal guidelines stemming from an environmental impact review of the plan.

Now, larger traffic volumes justifies a wider span. In 2005, that Beltway section carried around 109,000 cars and trucks each day, according to state statistics.

A reader asks: What is the monstrosity they're building along the southern Beltway near Interstate 15, over by Fry's electronics store?

It's a flyover ramp that will link northbound Las Vegas Boulevard over the freeway to a private development on the west side of the Strip, according to Shelton.

"It'll allow traffic to go from northbound Las Vegas Boulevard into that private development," Shelton said.

The development is the massive Town Square project, a retail and commercial center being built by Turnberry Associates and Centra Properties on a 117-acre lot at Las Vegas Boulevard and Sunset Road.

The flyover, near the Fry's that passing drivers often use as a landmark, will allow easy access between the Strip and Town Square.

When it opens in November, the $750 million development will include around 1 million square feet of retail space, a 10,000-square foot central park, around 150 shops, a dozen restaurants, offices and move theaters scattered among 20 buildings done in a Spanish missionary style.

The flyover is expected to open this summer. Turnberry is picking up the $5 million price tag for the flyover.

Hit 'n' Run: Lou Young did double-duty as the Road Warrior's very own North Las Vegas bureau chief, offering me one sighting and one rant. "A little of both today," he said.

First, he was live and on the scene when he saw this potential driving disaster unfold along northbound Rancho Drive at Bonanza Road:

"Sign posted right next to the signal light. No left turn. Embarq truck making a left turn directly into oncoming traffic," Young said. "Sign on the back of the truck says, 'This Way To Common Sense.' "

Or not.

Then, my pal Lou had some time to think about those who ignore ramp meters. Specifically, the people who drive alone but nonetheless use car pool lanes, also known as high-occupancy vehicle, or HOV, lanes, to skirt stop lights that direct ramp traffic. Signals that people such as Lou yield for.

"If you are driving by yourself, you are supposed to wait in the right lane with the rest of us, who actually pay attention to these sort of things, until the light turns green when it is your turn. But on the other hand, this would mean hanging up the cell phone, using turn signals, and other behavior which indicates you are aware that you are NOT the only person on the road," Young said. "I can always dream, can't I?"

Dream on, Lou.

If you have a question, tip or tirade, call the Road Warrior at 387-2904, or e-mail him at roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com or OSofradzija@reviewjournal.com. Please include your phone number.

 

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