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Las Vegas freeway traffic rises 9% during Phase One of reopening

Updated May 27, 2020 - 11:59 am

Traffic volumes slightly increased around the Las Vegas Valley’s freeway system after the launch of Phase One of Nevada’s reopening plan.

Phase One began May 9 and included the opening of some restaurants and retail establishments that must adhere to social distancing as well as cleaning and disinfecting practices.

The reopening of some businesses led to a 9 percent increase in traffic volume on Interstate 15, U.S. Highway 95 and the 215 Beltway during the third week of May, compared to traffic levels in April, according to data from the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada. The data is collected at five locations on each freeway.

Demand to get back out

With many Las Vegans keeping mainly to their homes during the first several weeks of the statewide coronavirus shutdown, it appears there was pent-up demand to get back out and experience a sense of normalcy after Phase One kicked off.

“We are beginning to see a gradual upward trend in traffic volumes across Southern Nevada following Phase One of the state’s reopening plan,” said MJ Maynard, RTC CEO. “There has been week-over-week increases in May between 1 percent and 15 percent valleywide.”

I-15 volumes were down 32 percent in the third week of May compared to the same week in 2019. Still, that was up from April, when traffic volume was down 45 percent from the previous year.

On the 215 Beltway, traffic was down 30 percent during the third week year over year, representing a 7 percent increase from April’s 37 percent dip compared to April 2019.

US 95 traffic increases

U.S. 95 saw traffic volume rise by 6 percent during Phase One, going from being down 31 percent in April compared to the same month last year, to being 25 percent lower in the third week of May year over year.

The largest spike in traffic volume in Phase One was seen on I-15 at the Nevada-Arizona line, which was down 15 percent the third week of May compared to the same week in 2019. That is up 30 percent from April, when the stretch saw a 45 percent year-over-year decrease.

Traffic on I-15 at the Nevada-California line was down 51 percent year over year in the third week of May, but that’s an increase from the all-time low of 66 percent seen in April.

“Traffic along this section of I-15 is determined by the activity at the Las Vegas Resort corridor, and we anticipate traffic volumes will pick up once the resorts reopen,” Maynard said.

That increase could occur next week, as Gov. Steve Sisolak announced Phase Two of the state’s reopening plan would begin Friday, with hotel-casinos slated to reopen June 4. Caesars Palace and the Flamingo confirmed their June 4 reopening plans Wednesday, and many other resort properties have announced they plan to reopen.

With other businesses, including bars, shopping malls, spas and gyms, allowed to reopen at 50 percent occupancy rates Friday, traffic is slated to keep tracking upward.

“I am very proud of our staff at the Traffic Management Center who have remained committed throughout the coronavirus pandemic,” Maynard said. “We look forward to welcoming drivers back on our roads as our residents adjust to our new normal.”

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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