Widening I-15 tops 'superproject' list

This week, readers want to know if more cars on Interstate 15 in North Las Vegas will mean more lanes in the future, and whether fuzzy lane markings can get brightened in the southern valley.

And the Road Warrior learns of a driver who didn't wait for new lanes to be built on a valley street. Instead he made his own.

Steve asks: Interstate 15 southbound from Craig Road to Lake Mead Boulevard seems like such a constant bottleneck. It seems as though there is room for another lane, which would help with the problem. Are there any plans for this to be improved?

Yes, and those plans aren't far from getting started.

The 2007 Legislature agreed to take $170 million of the state's budget surplus and contribute that toward a $210 million plan that will widen I-15 between Craig and the U.S. Highway 95 "Spaghetti Bowl" interchange in downtown Las Vegas from the existing six lanes to 10 lanes.

The balance will be covered by other state and federal funding sources.

The project is literally at the top of the Nevada Department of Transportation's "superproject" work list, consisting of expansion projects on the state's busiest freeways, in hopes of heading off debilitating levels of congestion in the coming years.

The I-15 project is expected to start before year's end, and could be finished in 2010.

"That will definitely start this fall," said Bob McKenzie, a Transportation Department spokesman.

Later, engineers are expected to widen I-15 from Craig to the Apex exit northeast of the city. That project is still under review and needs cash to get started.

That stretch of I-15 has quickly become congested with traffic generated by the explosive growth of residential communities in the northern valley. I-15 north of Lake Mead carried as many as 115,000 cars and trucks daily, triple the volume from the early 1990s, according to state statistics.

Andrew Gorelow asks: The intersection of Jones Boulevard and Windmill Lane in the south valley has been the scene of several head-on collisions during the past year. The problem is that the right-turn lane going south on Jones is poorly marked and people continue to drive straight, causing the problems. This has been an issue for at least two years and nothing is being done about it. Are there any plans to fix this danger or is there not enough money in the budget to buy paint?

It's a bit of a trick for drivers, that's for sure. When I visited last week, the lane markings were pretty faded, though there were two signs ahead of the intersection warning that right-lane traffic must turn right.

But it's a relatively undeveloped area that's not particularly well-lit at night, and there's no stop sign for traffic heading southbound on Jones. And just south of the intersection, the road narrows from two lanes each way to one.

So a southbound driver in the right lane who missed the signs for whatever reason could cross the intersection and suddenly find his lane missing, possibly prompting a swerve toward the remaining inside lane. So I can see Andy's safety concern.

And as more people move into the southern valley, that crossing will likely only become more of a problem.

The faded striping was news to Clark County's public works department. "It's the first I've heard about it," said Bobby Shelton, a department spokesman.

In all fairness, valley traffic engineers have thousands of intersections to keep tabs on, and rely heavily on reports from passers-by, like Andy, to check and fix trouble spots. In this case, Shelton said he'd forward Andy's concern to his department's traffic management division.

Anyone wanting to report problems with lane markings or signage in unincorporated Clark County can also call the traffic management division and make a report at 455-6100. In incorporated areas like the city of Las Vegas, citizens should call the public works department of the municipality in question.

Hit 'n Run: A caller says he was stuck in traffic on southbound Decatur Boulevard near Charleston Boulevard this month. It might have been an accident, or just congestion. He doesn't know.

That's when another driver decided waiting was for suckers.

"All of the sudden, this big red pickup truck (driver) decided he was tired of waiting," the caller said. "He jumped up on the median and drove right through."

This wasn't a flat median strip, the caller said. It was a median landscaped with rock mulch.

"From Charleston to Alta (Drive). Rocks were flying and everything," pinging off of cars stuck in the queue, the caller said. "He said, 'To hell with everybody." If somebody had a gun, they would've shot him."

Just another day of driving in the valley, I guess.


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.