Consider it an early gift.
With the holidays on the horizon, the city of Henderson is opening a new U.S. Highway 95 interchange to ease congestion near the Galleria at Sunset mall and offer adjacent residents a new highway access road.
The $66 million Galleria Drive interchange, between Russell and Sunset roads, will be open to the public about 8 a.m. Wednesday.
While this might not seem like a big deal to all Las Vegas Valley residents, it is a project that motorists who live and work in Henderson have looked forward to for a year and a half.
“This is very big,” said Henderson engineer Jonna Sansom.
Based on the city’s traffic analysis, about 47,000 vehicles are expected to use the new Galleria interchange each day. Sansom said about 14,000 vehicles that now use the Russell Road interchange every day will instead take Galleria; about 33,000 vehicles a day will switch from the Sunset Road interchange to the new Galleria ramps.
With Galleria sharing the load normally placed on Sunset, holiday shopping at the Galleria mall — the largest retail center in Henderson — might be a little less hectic.
“Traffic gets pretty bad on Sunset, especially on weekends and during the holidays,” said Lori Terrano, manager of Eye Masters, which is in the mall complex. “The Galleria exit from (U.S.) 95 should help with the backup by taking the traffic off Sunset.”
The primary mission of the interchange is not to assist with traffic to the mall, but to provide a new east-west corridor over the freeway.
“By adding that interchange, we’re able to ease that congestion on Russell Road and Sunset,” said Kathleen Richards, public information officer for the city of Henderson.
The Regional Transportation Commission provided the funding for the project to the city of Henderson using taxes voters had approved for major roadwork projects. The Nevada Department of Transportation managed the project.
The new roadway is significant in that Galleria Drive previously was in segments. On the west side of the freeway, Galleria scooted behind the mall and into a residential area before swooping north and connecting with Russell. On the east side, Stufflebeam Avenue connected the freeway to a two-lane Galleria Drive in a mostly residential area.
Not only does the newly finished project include a bridge over the freeway, but it stretches a widened Galleria all the way to Boulder Highway. Ultimately, as residential developments are built, the road will reach the Tuscany Village development on Olivia Parkway.
The next segment of the Galleria Drive project will continue from Boulder Highway to Pabco Road. That work is expected to be finished in the winter of next year.
The entire project consists of six new bridges, including the southbound U.S. 95 onramp, which carries traffic over the Sunset Road off-ramp. The U.S. 95 north exit to Galleria Drive climbs over the Sunset onramp to U.S. 95 north.
Contact reporter Adrienne Packer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2904.