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Traffic leaving Las Vegas jams I-15 as holiday weekend ends

Updated September 7, 2020 - 7:51 pm

Don’t tell the tourists stuck in a 22-mile backup on their way home to California this Labor Day, but at least one person in Las Vegas was happy to see the traffic: the mayor.

“I’m excited to have the enthusiasm and the excitement back,” Mayor Carolyn Goodman said Monday afternoon. “People know what it is that Vegas has to offer, and they’re coming back.”

Goodman said she wasn’t surprised to see the traffic backing up in and out of California over the holiday weekend. With the airports restricted for COVID-19, she said she fully expected the first big tourism surge to come from Southern California.

“I’ve always said that Southern California and its residents are the heartbeat of our community,” Goodman said. “They make up at least 30 percent of our tourism.”

As of Monday evening, traffic on Interstate 15 was crawling around 16 mph until Sloan Road, according to sigalert.com. Speeds picked up to 42 mph just after the California border.

What was a 12-mile backup on I-15 at about 11 a.m. had grown to 22 miles as of 1:30 p.m., then down to 14 miles shortly after 5:30, and 8 miles by 7:30, according to the Nevada Highway Patrol, who tweeted that traffic was expected to begin easing up after 9.

“That is historically what we see every holiday,” the agency tweeted.

Air traffic down

McCarran International Airport saw substantially fewer flights around the holiday weekend than it has in past years.

Airport spokesman Joe Rajchel said Monday that the airport had 352 scheduled arrivals on Thursday and 359 on Friday, compared with 544 and 537 last year, respectively. There were 329 scheduled departures on Monday this year, compared with 537 last year.

‘Shoulder drivers’

The Highway Patrol did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday about how many tickets had been issued, but the agency had tweeted photos of 10 “shoulder drivers” they had pulled over by 3 p.m.

“Shoulder drivers” were described as drivers who thought their “time was just too precious to sit in traffic” and tried to cut through the shoulder to get around traffic, per the agency’s Twitter.

According to a Highway Patrol tweet from 2:40 p.m., a silver Nissan Versa hit a tow truck in the shoulder, but no injuries were reported.

“This is why you can’t drive in the shoulder,” the tweet said. “This tow truck was pulling into the shoulder and was hit by someone shoulder driving.”

Contact Alexis Ford at aford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0335. Follow @alexisdford on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writers Marvin Clemons and Mark Davis contributed to this report.

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