Desert Inn cones sticking around awhile

This week readers want to know about the mess on Desert Inn Road, whether there are plans to widen an onramp from Interstate 15 to the Las Vegas Beltway, and whether you can get out of paying a late fee to the Department of Motor Vehicles because of a medical emergency.

A reader asks: Traffic on Desert Inn Road between Jones and Rainbow boulevards is a mess. What is going on and when will it ever be done?

The work is part of the installation of a 5,000-foot-long, 36 inch in diameter water pipeline on Desert Inn, from Jones Boulevard to Rainbow Boulevard, by the Las Vegas Valley Water District, said spokesman Roger Buehrer.

The current phase of the $6.9 million project, which started in January and is being constructed by Spiess Construction Co., should be done in early May, he said.

Buehrer also wanted to make folks aware of nighttime work on Rainbow at the intersection of Desert Inn.

Workers are installing a connecting pipeline and have reduced Rainbow to one southbound lane and three northbound lanes through 6 a.m. Saturday.

Try avoiding Desert Inn for the next few weeks and take Spring Mountain Road or Sahara Avenue for east-west travel as an alternative.

Mark writes: I am looking forward to completion of the work being done at Decatur Boulevard and the Beltway, but my concern is about the backup caused by all the traffic from southbound I-15 merging on the one-lane onramp to the westbound Beltway. This backs up even when the Beltway is moving smoothly. Do you know if any thought or effort has been given to making any changes there?

Clark County, which oversees the Beltway, and the Nevada Department of Transportation, which oversees I-15, both realize something needs to be done.

One state official said that interchange, especially the backup from southbound I-15 to the Beltway, is one of the more dangerous traffic situations in the valley.

The problem is there are two lanes on that exit to head east on the Beltway and one lane to go west.

The lone lane for the westbound entrance to the Beltway creates a bottleneck and vehicles slow to a crawl in that lane.

In the eastbound lanes, vehicles travel significantly faster, creating a potentially dangerous situation as motorists try to weave in and out of the congestion.

John Terry, who's the project manager for the I-15 south project, which will make improvements to the freeway between Sloan and Tropicana Avenue, said the solution is to separate traffic headed for the eastbound and westbound Beltway.

The plan is to have southbound I-15 motorists exit for the westbound Beltway at Russell Road, Terry said.

A "collector road" would then carry those vehicles on two lanes to the Beltway.

Motorists exiting I-15 for the eastbound Beltway would use the current ramps.

The state's project is under environmental review by the federal government.

The first phase of the I-15 south project could get under way in a year's time, Terry said, and would construct a collector road for the Beltway as well as collector roads at Tropicana Avenue and Blue Diamond Road.

The cost would be about $200 million, Terry said.

Richard asks: I missed my deadline to have my smog check done because I was in the hospital. Does the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles waive late fees for someone in my situation?

Tom Jacobs, spokesman for the Motor Vehicle Department, said there's no wiggle room when it comes to fees.

Whether it's a smog check, a registration fee or a late fee, the Nevada Revised Statues offers no provision that allows the department to waive fees, even in case of an emergency, Jacobs said.

"It's a common misconception that the DMV has the power to waive late fees," he said.

However, there is an appeal process, Jacobs said.

The appeal is heard by an administrative law judge, who then may decide to waive a late fee if the situation, for instance a medical episode, calls for it, Jacobs said.

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