Tempered glass panes, aluminum panels and lighted handrails line the freshened-up pedestrian bridges soaring 17 feet above the southern end of the Strip, just in time for the holiday season.
The fourth and final span to get a face-lift is scheduled to reopen by 3 p.m. Thursday, linking the Excalibur and New York-New York, the Nevada Department of Transportation said.
The renovation was completed six months ahead of schedule to specifically open in time for New Year’s Eve, when a three-mile stretch of the Strip will close to traffic and make room for revelers ringing in 2018.
However, the expedited work increased construction costs by $235,000, NDOT officials said.
The improvements, now pegged at more than $34 million, is primarily funded by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. Clark County will assume responsibility for the bridges when the project wraps up.
Gone are the clunky chain-link fences that made the area seem more like a prison yard than a vacation destination. NDOT officials said the 165-foot-long spans were designed to finally match the newer, sleek pedestrian bridges farther north on the Strip.
Final touches will continue through March on new air-conditioning units and other electronic equipment added to the elevators, NDOT spokesman Tony Illia said.
The renovation project at Tropicana Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard was supposed to start in April 2016, but NDOT officials were concerned that any bridge closures would interfere with the opening of the nearby T-Mobile Arena that same month.
Construction finally began in June 2016, allowing crews to work on one bridge at a time in order to avoid disruptions during major events, shows and conventions.
The bridge linking Excalibur and Tropicana was completed first, in December 2016, followed by the span connecting Tropicana and MGM Grand in June. The bridge between New York-New York and MGM Grand reopened in September.
The 23-year-old pedestrian bridges aren’t just the oldest in Southern Nevada, but also one of the state’s busiest crossings, with roughly 130,000 pedestrians daily.
New Year on the Strip
Vehicles won’t be allowed to travel along a three-mile stretch of the Strip on New Year’s Eve, the Nevada Department of Transportation said Wednesday.
Las Vegas Boulevard will close at 5 p.m. Dec. 31 in both directions between Mandalay Bay and SLS Las Vegas, NDOT spokesman Tony Illia said. Tropicana Avenue will also close in both directions between Koval Lane and Dean Martin Drive during that time, along with eastbound Flamingo Road at Valley View Boulevard.
Onramps and offramps to Interstate 15 will also close at 5 p.m. New Year’s Eve at Spring Mountain Road, Flamingo Road and Tropicana Avenue. Drivers will be able to enter and exit the freeway at Sahara Avenue and Russell Road.
Road and ramp restrictions will be gradually lifted between 3 and 6 a.m. New Year’s Day.
Escalator access to all pedestrian bridges along the Strip will shut down at 2 p.m. Access to the bridges will be closed just before midnight.
— Art Marroquin