weather icon Clear

Herb Jaffe: Clogged parkway reflects Summerlin’s rapid growth

Take a good look at the burst of new homes, shopping centers and restaurants and the crush of new folks coming from every direction and you’ll realize it’s no wonder that Summerlin has become one of the fastest-growing sectors in the Southwest.

It’s also no wonder that Summerlin Parkway, which was built with the intention of helping to develop Summerlin, then to serve the needs of a population influx, has succeeded but is now struggling to keep pace with the community’s growth.

Construction cones and barrels have been an integral part of the parkway’s landscape for more than a year, creating inconveniences, especially during peak hours. But think of it this way: The disruptions are necessary while the city works to improve safety and traffic flow along the 5.3-mile thoroughfare that cuts through the heart of Summerlin.

However, another factor has surfaced: the vastly increased volume of new traffic in a relatively short time. Much of it has come from the rash of new housing since the end of the recession.

“We were expecting this growth,” said traffic engineer Mike Janssen, who is also deputy director and transportation manager in the Las Vegas Department of Public Works. “That’s why almost three years ago we initiated a three-phase, $13 million project in traffic safety and capacity improvements along the Summerlin Parkway corridor.”

But a traffic survey conducted recently by Janssen’s staff has shown some startling increases in volume during those same three years. For example, just west of U.S. 95, where traffic enters Summerlin Parkway, “we’re seeing about 113,000 vehicles per day, which is an increase of close to 12 percent in three years,” Janssen said.

Heading west on the parkway, daily volume of 107,000 vehicles at a point just east of Durango Drive represents an increase of almost 11.5 percent since 2014.

“But the really big changes are occurring as you drive further west along Summerlin Parkway,” Janssen continued.

In pointing to the sector of road just west of Town Center Drive, Janssen said the survey showed a whopping increase in traffic of 54 percent in just three years, from 41,000 vehicles per day to 63,000.

“So clearly, we are seeing a lot more traffic on this segment of the parkway,” Janssen noted. “And it’s due in large part to all of the new housing that’s being developed west of the 215, the new Downtown Summerlin shopping area and additional retail outlets along the Rampart corridor, like Tivoli Village and new stores in Boca Park.”

Recognizing how vital the parkway is to the continued growth of Summerlin, Janssen outlined some of the city’s plans for easing the flow of traffic. The heaviest concentration of parkway construction involves the addition of auxiliary lanes, which in essence serves as a widening of the parkway, but only along key traffic sectors.

“One of the improvements in our phase three parkway project will provide auxiliary lanes between the Town Center and Rampart on/off ramps, which will be a huge improvement along that segment of the parkway,” Janssen said. Another auxiliary lane is planned for the section between Town Center and Anasazi, to ease a heavily increased flow of traffic on and off the parkway.

Phase three of the improvement plan, an estimated $6.5 million project, is expected to begin late this summer “and will add a variety of additional safety and capacity improvements to Summerlin Parkway, between 215 and Buffalo,” he noted.

Janssen added that the recent start of construction of Reverence, a Pulte Homes community of 920 houses on 300 acres at the westernmost end of Summerlin Parkway, will also necessitate extending the road by an estimated quarter of a mile.

Herb Jaffe was an op-ed columnist and investigative reporter for most of his 39 years at the Star-Ledger of Newark, New Jersey. His most recent novel, “Double Play,” is now available. Contact him at hjaffe@cox.net.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Sun City homes get state-of-the-art smoke alarms

Under a new program, nearly 50 Sun City homes could spend $100 on getting the most state-of-the-art, battery-generated smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detection systems.

Density of Downtown Summerlin has come a long way

Andy Ciarrocchi, vice president of management and operations for Hughes Corp., says “we have already provided over 90 percent of what people want.” But there’s much more to come.

Las Vegas author’s Howard Hughes biography adds new insight

Just as you might have imagined, the ultimate biography of Howard Hughes is an all-inclusive history of one of the more fascinating though enigmatic figures in American history.

Faith Lutheran, Nevada’s first prep hockey team, also winner

They finished their regular schedule last weekend with nine wins, six losses and two ties — quite a record for Faith Lutheran High School. The first official high school hockey team in Nevada is eager to help form a school league within the state.

Tour reveals Las Vegas Ballpark’s full splendor

If you think you have a grasp of what the $150 million Las Vegas Ballpark will offer to fans of the Aviators (formerly 51s) just because you drive by the site occasionally on your way to Downtown Summerlin, are you ever in for a surprise.

Summerlin educator’s new focus: Helping learning-disabled

No doubt you’ve heard a lot about overcrowded classrooms. It’s not just a Las Vegas problem — nor is it just a Nevada problem. It’s a universal problem. Indeed, it can become a horrific problem when a teacher is forced to deal with a classroom of 40 to 45 students.

North Las Vegas counterterrorism training school aids synagogue

Chabad Synagogue of Summerlin/Desert Shores was in the process of a major overhaul of its security system well before the anti-Semitic massacre of 11 congregants at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Oct. 27.