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This is when you should drive across the Nevada-California border

Updated May 26, 2023 - 9:01 am

About 45,000 vehicles crossed the California-Nevada border on Interstate 15 every day last year, but some days and months were notoriously more of a nightmare for drivers.

Data from the Nevada Department of Transportation showed the busiest month to cross state lines last year was July, when an average of 52,551 vehicles passed through daily. The quietest month, with 38,408 vehicles crossing daily, was January.

California Department of Transportation spokesperson Carolina Rojas said weekend vehicle traffic is 45 percent higher than weekday traffic, and to the surprise of no Las Vegas residents, holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s were the most high-traveled.

“In 2022, there was significant traffic flow on southbound Interstate 15 into California on Memorial Day weekend,” Rojas noted.

The busiest day to travel across state lines in 2022 was Friday, with 55,970 vehicles on average, according to Nevada data. The slowest day was Tuesday.

In December 2021, then-Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak and California Gov. Gavin Newsom pledged a 5-mile upgrade on I-15 to address the bottleneck that occurs where the interstate goes from three travel lanes to two. By November, crews had completed a one-mile transition lane in Nevada.

But traffic after the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays continued to halt travelers for miles.

“On non-holiday weekends, the transition lane is saving an average of 30-40 minutes on Sundays and Mondays for travelers heading back to Southern California from Las Vegas, with little to no queueing around the border,” Rojas said in a statement on May 16.

The daily traffic rate at the border was consistently hovering around 45,000 for about five years before the pandemic, from 2015 through 2019. The average daily rate dropped in 2020 to 37,000 vehicles, and then spiked at nearly 50,000 in 2021.

The annual numbers for 2022 matched pre-pandemic data.

Rojas said California Department of Transportation authorities are working with the federal government still to set a timeline for their part of the two-state project.

Contact Sabrina Schnur at sschnur@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0278. Follow @sabrina_schnur on Twitter.

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