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Long-term fix for Convention Center parking may be underground

Updated January 14, 2020 - 7:32 pm

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority voted for a temporary fix for an upcoming parking problem. But a long-term solution for the Las Vegas Convention Center could be right under board members’ noses — about 40 feet underground.

The authority board approved a lease agreement Tuesday negotiated with the World Buddhism Association Headquarters for parking during March’s ConExpo-Con/Agg construction equipment trade show.

In a unanimous vote, the board authorized $65,000 to use the 12.2-acre parking lot just east of the Sahara and the Las Vegas Monorail station.The lot will accommodate 1,150 vehicles and will be used by LVCVA staff, laborers and show business officials.

ConExpo-Con/Agg, which arrives in Las Vegas every three years, fills most of its parking lots with construction equipment displays during the show. The LVCVA will need access to the association’s lot from March 8-16.

The World Buddhism Association bought the acreage in July 2018 for $17.5 million but has yet to develop it.

Tuesday’s vote spurred a discussion about the lack of parking, particularly at big trade shows that use lots for outdoor exhibits.

New parking garage?

In response to a board member’s question about the possibility of building a parking garage at the Convention Center, LVCVA President and CEO Steve Hill said the people-mover system being built beneath the Convention Center, if expanded citywide, could provide a solution to the lack of parking — that, and the tens of thousands of parking spaces that already exist up and down the Strip.

“Building a parking garage costs almost as much for a spot in the parking garage as it does to buy the car that’s in the spot,” Hill said in an interview after the meeting.

Hill believes a potential solution lies with the Boring Co.’s $52.5 million people-mover — a system that could be expanded with a network of tunnels connecting resorts to the Convention Center and even McCarran International Airport.

“I think it ought to be one of the considerations as we look at all different kinds of things that can provide solutions,” he said.

Hill noted that normally, parking garages adjacent to the city’s resorts aren’t filled to capacity. If a Boring tunnel could be connected to resorts and their garages, there would be no need to add parking at the Convention Center.

Hassle-free transit

He said people attending trade shows who are parking at resorts would probably be interested in using a transit system that could deliver them directly to the Convention Center in minutes with no traffic hassles.

In addition to ConExpo-Con/Agg, three annual trade shows use all of the LVCVA’s parking lots for exhibits: CES, World of Concrete and the Specialty Equipment Market Association. So, for about 12 dates a year, parking at the Convention Center is a big problem.

The Boring people-mover is designed to provide point-to-point transportation to destinations. That means a person who parks at, say, Bellagio, could order a ride through a tunnel directly to the Convention Center without stopping at any other Strip locations.

Putting on his hat as chairman of the Las Vegas Stadium Authority, Hill said that the people-mover concept could be a solution also for Allegiant Stadium parking.

The Convention Center people-mover tunnel boring machine has chewed through 2,160 feet of dirt from the east end of the system and was roughly beneath the LVCVA board room at the time the meeting was conducted.

Hill said in early February that the machine would reach the tunnel end point near the front door of the $980.3 million West Hall expansion. At that point, the machine would be extracted from underground and returned to the starting point to dig a second parallel tunnel.

Tunnel images

The LVCVA released photos and videos of the tunnel. Images show pipes lining the tunnel wall that run water and air to and from the boring machine. A temporary track on the floor of the tunnel is for a traveling muck bin that transports dirt and debris.

“I think, over time, we’re going to need to diminish the number of individual cars with individual passengers in it to address congestion and air quality issues,” Hill said.

“What I would like is for everyone to pause before they think about building a parking garage,” he said. “Over a period of time, certainly the period of time that that parking garage is going to be around, it probably will not be necessary.”

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

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