Tighten your belts, downtown Las Vegas commuters.
“The Big Squeeze” will elicit a long, painful pinch starting March 21, when U.S. Highway 95 will be narrowed to two lanes in each direction between Rancho Drive and the Spaghetti Bowl interchange through the end of the year.
“We felt it was the best description without being disparaging or misleading while warning people what to expect,” said Tony Illia, a spokesman for the Nevada Department of Transportation.
“This isn’t like the other closures you may have encountered before,” Illia said. “This is a little longer, and a lot more significant.”
Through December, the major highway lane restrictions will coincide with periodic closures along nearby freeway ramps and surface streets.
NDOT will soon hold a news conference to officially announce “The Big Squeeze” campaign and an accompanying logo of a belt tightening around the U.S. Highway 95 sign.
“The Big Squeeze” is the sequel to “Car-nado,” which prompted a four-month closure of the Interstate 15’s southbound and northbound ramps connecting to northbound U.S. Highway 95, along with freeway offramps to Martin Luther King Boulevard.
Both of those themed closures fall under the larger umbrella of Project Neon, a $1 billion effort to redesign and add traffic lanes along I-15 from the U.S. 95 interchange to Sahara Avenue by July 2019.
A third, yet-to-be-named closure is anticipated in 2018, making for a traffic trilogy.
Gov. Brian Sandoval expressed his disapproval of “Car-nado,” prompting NDOT officials to develop a nickname that didn’t compare Nevada’s largest freeway infrastructure project to a natural disaster.
This time around, NDOT officials sought input from downtown-area businesses, the city of Las Vegas, Clark County officials and the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, Illia said.
“There is a definite benefit to branding the closure because Project Neon is so massive,” Illia said. “We have so many different restrictions on a weekly basis that we didn’t want this to get lost in all the noise.”