“The Big Squeeze” is poised to follow the rules of sequels when it debuts March 21 in downtown Las Vegas.
Just like with movies, the second edition is going to be worse than the first — with “The Godfather” franchise as the rare exception, of course.
As Nevada Department of Transportation spokesman Tony Illia told me just a few days ago: “This isn’t like the other closures you may have encountered before.”
Believe the hype for this big-budget production.
“The Big Squeeze” picks up where “Car-nado” leaves off, serving as the next major restriction for the larger Project Neon, a $1 billion effort to redesign and add traffic lanes along Interstate 15 from the U.S. Highway 95 interchange to Sahara Avenue by July 2019.
This time, U.S. 95 will be narrowed to two lanes in each direction between Rancho Drive and the Spaghetti Bowl interchange through the end of the year.
Yes, nine months.
That means motorists get to decide whether to sit in traffic, or veer onto surface streets as a way to keep moving.
Spoiler alert: Some freeway ramps and surface streets may fall victim to closures related to work on “The Big Squeeze.” Expect the buzz to ramp up in the next couple of weeks when NDOT releases a logo of a belt tightening around the U.S. 95 sign.
Just when you thought it was over, a third yet-to-be-named closure is anticipated in 2018, making for a perfect traffic trilogy brought to you by NDOT.
None of us were really fans of Car-nado’s four-month run with major ramp closures on I-15 — especially those who live or work in the downtown area.
But as some of you might remember, Gov. Brian Sandoval was the biggest critic of the Car-nado nickname because Nevada’s largest highway infrastructure project was compared to a natural disaster.
I reached out to the governor’s office to see if he approves of the newest moniker, which oddly rhymes with “The Big Cheese.”
“The governor is a proud champion of Project Neon and has worked for years to ensure it remains a top priority for the Department of Transportation,” Sandoval’s spokeswoman, Mari St. Martin wrote in an email to the Road Warrior.
While not exactly a ringing endorsement, it appears Sandoval embraces “The Big Squeeze.”
Like a lot of locals and tourists, Tom from Las Vegas enjoys the occasional drive along Charleston Boulevard to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. During a recent trip, Tom noticed there is not a sign warning motorists that Charleston narrows to one lane around Sky Vista Drive.
A sign warning about the merge went missing a few years ago, said Marc Cutler, an assistant engineer for NDOT.
Good news, Tom: your question prompted NDOT to install a new sign a couple of weeks ago on Charleston, just before Sky Vista.
U-TURN NO MORE
Larry from Las Vegas noticed that a lot of drivers make U-turns at median openings along westbound Cheyenne Avenue near Rampart Boulevard. There aren’t any official turn lanes that allow this, Larry said, so the offending drivers usually cause traffic jams and near-collisions.
It turns out the median openings were created so that drivers headed east on Cheyenne can turn left into a shopping center, Las Vegas city spokeswoman Margaret Kurtz said.
City officials will order “no turn” signs that will be placed in the median, facing westbound traffic on Cheyenne, Kurtz said.
Bob from Boulder City wanted to know when a flood control project would be completed at Patrick Lane and Rainbow Boulevard in Las Vegas.
“The work is killing the local businesses,” Bob said.
Crews were installing a flood control channel under Rainbow, and construction is expected to wrap up this month, Clark County spokesman Dan Kulin said.
Expect some additional road work ahead, Bob. The county plans to repave Rainbow between Hacienda Avenue and the 215 Beltway starting in April or May, Kulin said.
Paul from Las Vegas said McLeod Drive is pretty bumpy between Flamingo Road and Tropicana Avenue, even though county crews recently worked on this stretch of road.
“The pavement is rough and uneven, especially between Rochelle Avenue and Flamingo Road,” Paul said. “What can be done to force the county into properly finishing this project?”
No need to strong-arm anyone, Paul. Kulin said that the project you mentioned was a “temporary measure,” and that the county plans to repave this section of McLeod later this year.
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ROAD WORK AHEAD
■ Charleston Boulevard will be restricted in both directions between Martin Luther King Boulevard and Shadow Lane from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. through March 17. Crews are installing new water and sewer lines.
■ Durango Drive is restricted at the 215 Beltway through March 17 for bridge installation.
■ Commerce Street is restricted between Wyoming Avenue and Main Street through March 31 for road improvements.
■ Washington Avenue will be restricted between Rainbow and Decatur boulevards from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays through March. Crews are improving sidewalk ramps and surface drainage.
■ The ramp leading from westbound Warm Springs Road to the westbound 215 Beltway will be closed from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. Sundays through Fridays until mid-March. Crews are working on the new flyover ramp and bridge.
■ Traffic will be redirected and reduced to one lane in each direction of U.S. Highway 95 for about a mile in Boulder City through March. Crews are building a bridge over the highway for the future Interstate 11 corridor.
■ Valley Drive is being widened between Tropical Parkway and Cheyenne Avenue in North Las Vegas, with completion expected in March.
■ Hopi Lane will be restricted between Bonanza Road and Harris Avenue from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays until April 7. Crews are completing sewer work.
■ The inside lanes of Interstate 15 will be closed in both directions between U.S. Highway 95 and Owens Avenue until 5 a.m. April 7. Crews are building support columns for new traffic management signs.
■ Lone Mountain Road is restricted between Cliff Shadows Parkway and the 215 Beltway until April 22. Crews are working on an overpass.
■ Southbound Durango Road will be restricted between Wigwam Avenue and Blue Diamond Road from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays through April 28. Crews are doing sewer work.
■ Warm Springs Road exit from the eastbound 215 Beltway will be closed through June. Crews are building a new bridge over the highway.
■ Northbound U.S. Highway 95 will be reduced to one lane between Craig Road and the Beltway from 8:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. weekdays through June. Crews are working on the Centennial Bowl ramps.
■ Southbound U.S. Highway 95 will be reduced to one lane between Durango Drive and Ann Road from 8:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. weekdays through June. Crews are working on the Centennial Bowl ramps.
■ Oakey Boulevard is closed between Main and Commerce streets through July. Crews are installing underground utilities and storm drain infrastructure.
■ Summerlin Parkway’s westbound lanes will be restricted between Buffalo Drive and Rampart Boulevard through July. Crews are building a new auxiliary lane and making other improvements.
■ The 13-mile scenic route at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area will be repaved in one-mile increments through summer.
■ Sections of Bonneville Avenue, Charleston Boulevard, Grand Central Parkway and Martin Luther King Boulevard will have closed or disrupted lanes surrounding the Spaghetti Bowl as crews work on Project Neon through July 2018.
The average gasoline price Friday in the Las Vegas Valley was $2.54 per gallon. It was $2.59 in Nevada. The national average of $2.32 is up 4 cents from a week ago, up 5 cents from a month ago and up 52 cents from a year ago.