For I-15, no pain, no gain

This week readers want to know what is causing the slowdown on Interstate 15 near Russell Road; is there a law against televisions being installed on dashboards of motor vehicles; and when are they going to activate the message signs on U.S. Highway 95 north?

A reader wants to know the reason for the slowdown on I-15 near Russell Road?

The Nevada Department of Transportation recently began a project to widen I-15 from four lanes to five lanes in both directions, from Sahara Avenue south to Interstate 215.

To do the work, I-15 will often be reduced to three lanes in order to pave the fifth lane. That reduction to three lanes is causing the slowdown.

The $21.5 million project, being funded by the Las Vegas Visitors and Convention Authority, is expected to be finished by September 2009.

Once the fifth lane is added, the two left lanes in each direction will become express lanes.

Motorists will be able to enter those lanes at Sahara Avenue heading south or at Russell heading north.

Commuters will have to remain in the express lanes until they come to an end, a distance of about 5 1/2 miles. Barriers known as "candlesticks" will separate the express lanes from the outside lanes.

State transportation officials believe these express lanes will help reduce congestion in the resort corridor of I-15 because most of the 250,000 drivers that traverse I-15 do not use the three exits between Russell and Sahara anyway.

The express lanes will allow drivers who do not need to stop in the resort corridor to be able to flow past the busiest interchanges of I-15 without dealing with weaving drivers.

There will be no restrictions as to who can drive in the express lanes, as there are with the high occupancy vehicle, or HOV, lanes on U.S. Highway 95.

Charles Johnson asks: When are they going to activate the message system on U.S. 95 north? It seems that they are taking their sweet time working on the project.

Tracy Bower, spokeswoman for the Regional Transportation Commission, said it's hoped the dynamic message signs will be up and running by the end of the year.

The signs will then tie into the signs on I-15 and motorists will be able to get a sense of the traffic situation on both of these freeways, Bower said.

For instance, a commuter on I-15 heading north will not only be given an estimated time for how long it will take to get to the Spaghetti Bowl but also how long it will take to get to the Rainbow Curve, she said.

Transportation officials hope that as the dynamic message system spreads throughout the valley it will help reduce congestion by giving motorists information about upcoming traffic problems. If a motorist on I-15 knows about a crash on U.S. 95, the driver can then make a decision about taking an alternate route instead of driving into a traffic jam.

Henry asks: Is there a law against having televisions on the dashboards of cars?

I was shocked to learn that there is.

Tom Jacobs, spokesman for the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles, pointed out to me Nevada Revised Statute 484.639, which states "A person shall not drive any motor vehicle equipped with television-type receiving equipment so located that the viewer or screen is visible from the driver's seat."

The statute goes on to state that equipment for traffic safety, law enforcement or navigation are legal. (And to be clear any television device behind the front seats of a motor vehicle is also legal).

The problem I have with the statute, which was passed into law in 1995, is that it isn't clear on how law enforcement should handle DVD players and monitors. I'm not sure DVD players qualify as "television-type receiving equipment."

Trooper Kevin Honea of the Nevada Highway Patrol said it's probably time that this law catches up to modern times and technology.

"Instead of less things going on in cars there are just more and more (distractions)," Honea said.

If you have a question, tip or tirade, call Francis McCabe at (702) 387-2904, or send an e-mail to Please include your phone number.