Analysts: Build high-speed rail, not more lanes for I-15

Don’t expect local transportation officials to get on the bandwagon to build additional lanes on Interstate 15 between Primm and Barstow, Calif., to improve traffic flow between Las Vegas and Southern California.

They’ll more likely get behind efforts to expand modes of transportation, such as high-speed rail and even hyperloop technology.

Tom Skancke, a ground transportation consultant to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, told authority board members Tuesday that the cost of adding new lanes in each direction for the 113 miles between the Nevada-California border and the first major freeway interchange in California would cost about $879 million in today’s dollars.

But Skancke said the project would require an extensive environmental impact study that could take as long as 10 years to complete. By the time a project could be started, the estimated cost would balloon to about $1.5 billion, Skancke said.

“We have to ask ourselves if we need more highways or more modes,” Skancke said.

He said he would recommend providing the funding needed to repair but not expand highway infrastructure along the route, but also to support efforts to develop high-speed rail.

Skancke noted that environmental approvals for a proposed highway known as the High Desert Corridor between Victorville and Palmdale, Calif., would be completed by summer. The significance of that 50-mile highway, advocated by Skancke a decade ago, is that includes a high-speed rail corridor.

Las Vegas-based XpressWest, planning a high-speed rail system connecting Las Vegas with Southern California, would use the High Desert Corridor to link its system from Victorville to the California High-Speed system that will pass through Palmdale on its way south to Los Angeles’ Union Station.

XpressWest is not seeking public funding for the project, but has considered applying for loans through a Federal Railroad Administration program.

Skancke also updated the board on the Interstate 11, a new four-lane highway project linking Mexico and Nevada. Crews already have begun a key portion of the project, a 15-mile bypass around Boulder City. Skancke said the project leaped forward when federal officials encouraged state leaders to begin developing I-11 routes between Las Vegas and Northern Nevada.

He also alerted board members of an upcoming highway closure that could affect weekend traffic beginning Friday. California crews will close the interchange of California highways 71 and 91 for 55 hours for construction Feb. 19-22.

The closure could affect Orange County traffic heading to and from Las Vegas for the three-day holiday weekend. Skancke said the alternative was to close the interchange over 10 weekends.

In other business, the board received a report from Rick Arpin, senior vice president of entertainment for MGM Resorts International, about April’s opening of the T-Mobile Arena just west of New York-New York.

The arena, which will hold between 16,000 and 20,000 people, depending on how seats are configured, has been designed to draw major special events that previously couldn’t be accommodated in existing Las Vegas venues.

Arpin said no gaming company sponsorships have been sold at the arena, but several casino companies have embraced the arena by purchasing their own luxury boxes for high-roller guests.

Arpin said the arena itself is expected to result in at least 500,000 visitors who would plan a trip to Las Vegas just to see an event there. He said the arena has produced 1,500 construction jobs, 640 jobs for arena workers and 1,055 support jobs from vendors. It is expected to produce $850 million in recurring economic impact each year and $50 million annually in new tax revenue.

The arena will be opened by The Killers, a Las Vegas-based band, and Wayne Newton on April 6. Future dates include performances by George Strait, Garth Brooks, and Guns ‘n Roses. The UNLV Rebels basketball team will also square off against Duke there in December and Arpin said he believes the NCAA is ready to amend its policies to enable collegiate sports events to be staged in Las Vegas. That means the potential of hosting early rounds of the March Madness tournament as well as the NCAA wrestling championships, usually held in the Midwest, collegiate hockey’s Frozen Four, usually scheduled on the East Coast, and a variety of collegiate gymnastics and volleyball events as well.

Contact reporter Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Find @RickVelotta on Twitter

Business
Auto repair shortage affects Las Vegas
The auto repair industry is facing a national shortage of workers.
Franchising industry booming
Experts say Las Vegas is a hotbed for the franchise industry.
Africa Love owner talks about his store in Las Vegas
Mara Diakhate, owner of Africa Love, gift and decor store, talks about his store in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Developer gets approval to build homes at Bonnie Springs
The Clark County Planning Commission has approved a plan to build 20 homes on the site of Bonnie Springs Ranch. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dig This opens new location In Las Vegas
Remember when you were a kid and played with construction toys in the sand box? Dig This Las Vegas has the same idea, except instead of toy bulldozers, you get to play with the real thing. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Town Square developer Jim Stuart building again in Las Vegas
Las Vegas’ real estate bubble took developers on a wild ride, something Jim Stuart knows all too well. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Salon opens at Veterans Village
T.H.E. Salon, owned by Nicole Christie, celebrated their opening at the Veterans Village with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
Southwest Airlines considering Las Vegas-Hawaii flights
Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly says the airline is "very focused" on Hawaii. Hawaiians have a strong presence in Las Vegas.The city’s unofficial status is “Hawaii’s ninth island.” In 2018, at least 2,958 people from Hawaii moved to Nevada. Of those, 88.7 percent moved into Clark County, according to driver license surrender data. According to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, 310,249 people came to Las Vegas from Hawaii in 2018.
Fewer Nevadans are celebrating Valentine's Day
Fewer Nevadans are celebrating Valentine's Day. About 1.2 million Nevadans are expected to celebrate this year, a 5 percent drop from 2018. A growing number of people consider Valentine’s Day over-commercialized. Others weren’t interested in the holiday or had nobody to celebrate with. But spending is expected to rise. Those who do celebrate are buying for more people. The average American is expected to spend about $162 this year for Valentine’s Day, a 57 percent jump from a decade prior. Katherine Cullen, director of industry and consumer insights at NRF
Foreclosures of mansions in Las Vegas
Las Vegas was ground zero for America's foreclosure crisis after the housing bubble burst. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rick Helfenbein talks about the impact of tariffs on the clothing industry
MAGIC fashion convention showcases men's clothing trends
The MAGIC fashion convention has come to Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center to showcase some of the hottest clothing trends for men. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Allegiant Air flight attendants learn how to handle a water landing
Field instructor Ashleigh Markel talks about training prospective flight attendants for Allegiant Air getting live training with a raft for a water landing at the Heritage Park Aquatic Complex in Henderson on Monday. (John Hornberg/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Smith & Wollensky CEO Michael Feighery speaks
Smith & Wollensky CEO Michael Feighery speaks about the new Smith & Wollensky restaurant coming to the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian in Las Vegas.
Smith & Wollensky CEO Michael Feighery speaks
Smith & Wollensky CEO Michael Feighery speaks about the new Smith & Wollensky restaurant coming to the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian in Las Vegas.
Smith & Wollensky CEO Michael Feighery talks about Las Vegas return
Michael Feighery, CEO of Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group, discusses the restaurant's upcoming return to the Las Vegas Strip.
Apartments to Come to Hughes Center
Developer Eric Cohen discusses his current building project at the Hughes Center office park in Las Vegas, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Stratosphere to rebrand to The STRAT
The Stratosphere, a 1,150-foot-tall property in Las Vegas will be renamed The STRAT Hotel, Casino and Skypod.
Local designers’ picks for the Las Vegas Market
The trends that local interior designers are noticing at the Las Vegas Market this year. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trends in bath products at Las Vegas Market
Camille Herd, the showroom manager for European Bath Kitchen Tile & Stone, talks about the popularity of free-standing bath tubs. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Kitchen trends at Las Vegas Winter Market
Las Vegas Winter Market displayed kitchen trends that mirror common dining accessories at Strip eateries. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Emerging trends in gifts at Las Vegas Market
Julie Smith Vincenti, curator for the First Look showroom tour on gifts and lifestyle, talks about the emerging trends in those categories for this season. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Las Vegas house prices are rising
Southern Nevada home prices were up 12 percent year-over-year in November.
Caesars Republic Scottsdale
Caesars Entertainment Corp. is building its first non-gaming hotel in the United States in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Caesars Entertainment Corp.)
Interior designer Mikel Welch talks about trends for Las Vegas Market
Interior designer Mikel Welch, who also is the on-camera designer for TLC’s Trading Spaces, discusses the trends he sees for the 2019 Las Vegas Winter Market. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
SHOT Show 2019: MEGGITT Virtual Training
MEGGIT showcases its virtual training system at SHOT Show 2019 in Las Vegas.
MGM delivers 700 meals to TSA workers at McCarran
Chefs at Garde Manger at Mandalay Bay provided 700 meals to federal employees who are affected by the government shutdown. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
SHOT Show 2019: A "nonsemi-automatic” weapon
Brandon Dunham of Nevada-based Franklin Armory show off the company’s new rifle prototype it calls a “nonsemi-automatic” weapon. The gun does not use a gas system to fire.
Las Vegas-based concrete repair company knows how to beat the heat
ART Concrete Solutions, a Las Vegas concrete-repair firm, addresses the challenges of construction in the extreme heat and sun of Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas based company brings color to concrete in the desert heat
Semco Modern Seamless Surface, a Las Vegas surface engineering company, knows how to put color in concrete construction in the Vegas heat. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
ad-high_impact_4
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing