The Tropicana Avenue-Interstate 15 interchange inched closer this week to becoming a reality.
The final public meeting for the project was held Tuesday by the Nevada Department of Transportation at the Hampton Inn Events Center to address the draft environmental assessment of the project.
Slated to get underway in 2021, it will be the first major upgrade to the Tropicana-I-15 interchange since it was built in the 1960s. It is aimed at improving traffic flow and helping the valley’s large event complexes.
The $200 million project’s scope includes I-15 between Russell and Flamingo roads and Tropicana between Las Vegas Boulevard and Valley View Boulevard. The area serves as a gateway to the Strip, T-Mobile Arena and the $2 billion Allegiant Stadium under construction for the Raiders.
The project calls for reconstructing the interchange, giving it a diamond on-ramp and offramp configuration and a flyover at Tropicana. Dean Martin Drive will be reconfigured to go underneath the Tropicana freeway ramps, eliminating a traffic light at the intersection near the In-N-Out restaurant.
Circular roads will be in place to maintain access to the northwest and southwest quadrants.
The sidewalks on Tropicana over I-15 will be widened from 5 feet to 10 feet, and a new pedestrian walkway will be constructed from the north side of Tropicana down to Frank Sinatra Drive, opening up a new access point to T-Mobile.
“Right now there’s poor connectivity with the sidewalks, and we’re proposing having two 10-foot sidewalks out there,” said Jeff Lerud, NDOT project manager. “There will be stairwells that take you from Tropicana down to Dean Martin on the west side and Frank Sinatra on the east side.”
Though it has been touted as a major component to game days at Allegiant Stadium, the interchange project won’t get underway until a year after the 65,000-fan capacity Raiders stadium project is complete. And with a construction time line of at least 26 months, it won’t be completed until 2024, according to the department.
NDOT said no major traffic issues are expected for fans heading to the stadium before the interchange work is completed. Both Russell and Dean Martin will be available for stadium access during the project’s construction.
“The traffic control that’s going to have to be in place is going to be very sensitive to the Raiders stadium and T-Mobile (Arena) and all the properties along the Strip right there,” Lerud said. “We’re trying to keep everyone happy while having as fast of a schedule as we can, so there’s going to be some give and take.”
The environmental assessment recommends a tight diamond interchange with a direct connect flyover, similar to the current one, but with an additional lane in each direction along Tropicana, plus another left- and right-turn pocket at the ramp terminals, according to Tony Illia, department spokesman.
Plans also call for creating a longer bridge span over I-15 for future widening of the freeway. The recommendations are based upon safety, pedestrian circulation, overall footprint, right-of-way, traffic operations, construction and cost.
The proposed project would improve traffic flow to and from Allegiant Stadium, T-Mobile Arena and the Strip, add high occupancy vehicle ramps at the Harmon Avenue overpass and improve safety, capacity and multi-modal access.
Because the HOV drop lanes would go to and from Harmon on the south side of the bridge, Elmo Wedderburn, a resident of nearby Panorama Towers, said he hoped the 24/7 HOV lane restrictions would soften so residents of the area would be able to use the ramps.
“For something that is close to you (the HOV drop lanes) that you can’t use … it could reduce the amount of traffic that you’re going to have on Dean Martin, especially on game days,” Wedderburn said.
Lerud said the lanes will keep the round-the-clock regulations, noting that changes could occur after a three-year study period of the carpool lane system that went online with Project Neon.
Adding the planned HOV ramps to Harmon plays into the planned extension of Valley View Boulevard, which now is interrupted by the Union Pacific Railroad line.
The $70 million project calls for Valley View to travel over the railroad line and reconnect south of the tracks. That would provide motorists with access to Harmon and the planned HOV ramp to I-15 southbound.
The under-construction Valley View project is slated to be completed in June 2020, according to Clark County.