In what could be the U.S. Highway 95 equivalent of Project Neon, early plans for a Downtown access project reveal possible striking changes for the highway in downtown Las Vegas.
The project will reconfigure a 4-mile portion of U.S. 95 and could carry a $1 billion price tag, according to the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada documents. That would be the same as Project Neon, which was the largest and most expensive public works project in state history.
Project Neon was the 4-mile widening of Interstate 15 from the Spaghetti Bowl to Sahara Avenue, which added HOV lanes to I-15 and U.S. 95 among other aspects.
With the plans in the early stages, the Nevada Department of Transportation cautioned that the budget for the project could increase or decrease depending on what the finalized plans include.
The project, whose scope is between Rancho Drive and Mojave Road, would add lane capacity to U.S. 95 through the corridor and extend the HOV lanes from Martin Luther King Boulevard to Eastern.
Initial plans also call for braided ramps between I-15 and U.S. 95 and the construction of new HOV interchanges at City and Maryland parkways.
The project would be the first update to the U.S. 95 viaduct, or elevated road running from Martin Luther King to just east of Las Vegas Boulevard, since it was built in the 1960s. The update would include the demolition or replacement of the bridge between Eighth Street and the Union Pacific railroad tracks, just west of Main Street.
A second bridge running from Eighth Street to Bruce Street that was constructed in 1980 would also be replaced.
“As these bridges continue to age, they require costly maintenance repairs to keep them in service,” the Downtown access project website states. “Preliminary design alternatives will be developed to determine appropriate measures to reconstruct the freeway in this area to address the aging infrastructure, accommodate future travel demands, improve safety, and travel time reliability.”
The project is tentatively scheduled to be in the environmental testing stage until 2023, with right of way acquisition and final design coming by 2027. Construction is slated to start in 2027 and be completed in 2031, according to the transportation department’s website.
The area averages 1.83 crashes per million vehicle miles traveled, above the state average of 1.55 crashes per million vehicle miles.
In the project area there were 272 crashes in 2015, climbing to 324 in 2016 and 460 in 2017.
NDOT plans to introduce the project this summer, with a public meeting on the project tentatively scheduled for midsummer. For more information on the Downtown Access Proejct visit the project’s website.