weather icon Partly Cloudy

Summerlin Parkway was rustic byway not long ago

If you were around these parts in 1989, when the city opened the first mile or so of Summerlin Parkway, you might have described the new artery as a scenic country road.

Not many of us could have envisioned that a full-grown, 5.3-mile Summerlin Parkway, which has since connected Route 95 to the 215 Beltway, would have become one of the most heavily traveled highways in the state by 2018. Indeed, other than some visionaries, few might have expected a need for almost all of Summerlin Parkway to become widened and enhanced with up-to-date safety features so soon after its opening.

One of those visionaries is Mike Janssen, the city’s director of public works. Janssen, who is also a traffic engineer, was instrumental in designing the improvements that have been implemented along the parkway for more than three years.

The question put to Janssen was simple. Who would have thought that the widening and other improvements along Summerlin Parkway would have been required so soon?

Janssen followed that with another question. “Who would have thought that well in excess of 100,000 vehicles a day traveling along much of the parkway in both directions would be the reason?”

A survey done by Janssen’s staff a year ago found some surprising increases in volume along various stretches of the road, certainly higher volume than anything that might have been expected in such a relatively short time since its completion.

For example, according to the findings there was a daily average of 113,000 vehicles traveling in both directions of the parkway between Route 95 and Buffalo Drive, representing an increase of 12 percent in three years. At a point just east of the Durango Drive exit the daily average was 107,000 vehicles, representing a three-year increase of almost 11.5 percent.

The biggest jump in traffic was 54 percent along a sector west of Town Center Drive, from 41,000 vehicles a day to 63,000. One reason is the increased number of new homes that have been built in that area.

Meanwhile, homes continue to be constructed where the parkway winds into the westernmost portions of Summerlin. Add into the equation the vehicular attraction to Downtown Summerlin and the baseball stadium being built for the Las Vegas 51s.

From all of this you can easily imagine how fast the community has been growing and why it has become so necessary for Summerlin Parkway to keep pace with its corresponding growth in volume. The improvements to Summerlin Parkway are expected to be completed by August, at a cost of $12.5 million.

Why not simply widen the parkway with a third lane, one might ask.

“Auxiliary lanes and easier access/egress ramps are a more efficient way to improve safety and capacity,” Janssen said. In reality, auxiliary lanes represent a form of a third lane for most of the parkway, which was originally designed as two lanes in both directions.

“We refer to the original two lanes as general purpose lanes. Historically, Summerlin Parkway was constructed as a general purpose roadway,” he explained. But from an engineering standpoint, to improve safety and efficiency, and better handle the increased flow of traffic, the parkway is in effect being redesigned with auxiliary lanes where volume is heaviest, together with modernized access/egress ramps.”

Herb Jaffe was an op-ed columnist and investigative reporter for most of his 39 years at the Star-Ledger of Newark, New Jersey. Contact him at hjaffe@cox.net.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
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.

Ceremony offers look at Summerlin’s fast-rising ballpark

You had to see it, and you didn’t even have to hear what they were saying in order to believe it. You already knew that once construction is completed, Las Vegas Ballpark will be “the envy of the country,” as Don Logan, president and chief operating officer of the Las Vegas 51s, told those who gathered for the topping-out ceremony.

Las Vegas NBA vet’s new challenge is helping at-risk children

It wasn’t until Michael Brown, a native of Newark, New Jersey, who became a resident of Las Vegas in 1997, ended his basketball days that he and wife Esther Rodriguez Brown became serious players in helping youths who have gone in the wrong direction.

Las Vegas recyclables take long journey from curb before reuse

Recyclables are not the kind of trash that’s taken to the dump. Instead, these are materials that can be returned to their original, raw form before shipment to other facilities to be recycled into usable resources.