Las Vegas drivers were thrown for a loop during the second day of closures associated with the “Main Event” on Tuesday, when traffic lanes were considerably slimmed down along Interstate 15.
Morning commuters crawled in both directions of the Spaghetti Bowl interchange as I-15 was reduced to three lanes between Sahara Avenue and Alta Drive as part of a round of restrictions expected to last through Nov. 20.
At its worst, traffic headed north on I-15 stretched past the southern 215 Beltway, while southbound drivers were backed up to Craig Road in North Las Vegas.
It’s going to keep getting worse as closures continue this week for the third and “most impactful” round of closures for Project Neon, the $1 billion reconfiguration of the Spaghetti Bowl interchange.
The “Main Event” is expected to pack another powerful punch Thursday morning, when I-15 narrows to two lanes each way between Alta Drive and D Street and further constricts the Spaghetti Bowl interchange.
“Motorists are only beginning to acclimate themselves to the new freeway configuration,” said Tony Illia, a spokesman for the Nevada Department of Transportation.
“They will adjust their daily commutes during the next few days, accordingly,” Illia said. “Meanwhile, we advise packing patience and budgeting additional travel time.”
To alleviate some of the painful congestion, NDOT on Tuesday morning reopened the I-15 offramps to Charleston Boulevard, along with a new Martin Luther King/ Pinto Lane onramp to southbound I-15.
Traffic on southbound U.S. Highway 95 wasn’t as bad Tuesday morning as most commuters appeared to adapt to a temporary, single-lane ramp leading to southbound I-15. However, there still appeared to be some drivers who continued to take the old ramp on Tuesday, only to find themselves on Martin Luther King Boulevard rather than the freeway.
NDOT officials monitoring the ramp saw a 30 percent increase in drivers who remembered to use the detour ramp on Tuesday, compared to Monday.
NDOT is rolling out the “Main Event” over several rounds expected to last through Friday, including a closure of the Martin Luther King Boulevard onramp to southbound U.S. 95 through early 2019. And, the D Street onramp to southbound I-15 will close from 9 p.m. Wednesday to mid-July.
Between now and the end of the year, Illia said that motorists can also expect a handful of overnight and short-term traffic lane and freeway ramp closures.
NDOT officials hope to alleviate some of the commuter confusion by flashing warning messages on a set of new Active Traffic Management signs that are expected to be switched on sometime this week, Illia said
In the meantime, NDOT officials advised drivers to use the Waze app and check for messages on the agency’s social media networks at Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. A hotline is also available in English and Spanish at 702-293-6366.