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Beltway projects raise questions

We’ve heard a lot about the Nevada Department of Transportation’s work along Interstate 15. It recently finished up the northern stretch from the Spaghetti Bowl to Craig Road and is now beginning work on the southern end near Blue Diamond Road. But there are a few other projects under way that focus more on the Las Vegas Beltway. Here are a couple posed recently by readers:

Steve asks: Is work going to begin anytime soon on the Northern Beltway and Highway 95 to make it a non-stop interchange?

The final design for that interchange is under way and the Nevada Department of Transportation expects construction to begin around the summer of 2011. The project not only includes new ramps to link the two highways but also additional landscaping and other aesthetic improvements.

On that same line of questioning, travelin’ Ron isn’t a race fan: Ron drives frequently from Las Vegas to Utah. The Las Vegas Beltway hits Interstate 15 south of the racetrack, which is frustrating because he cannot avoid race traffic even when he tries. Are there plans for the Beltway at I-15?

Ron, the folks at the state transportation division say that the design of the interchange at the Beltway and I-15 is scheduled to be complete by July 2012. When that structure is finished, you will be able to bypass the backup caused by events at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

An observant motorist questions the use of stimulus funding: In the construction area of Town Center Drive near Summerlin Parkway, there is a fancy green reflective sign that announces the project is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The sign looks like it cost as much as the project, is this necessary?

In this case, the city of Las Vegas listed the signs as requirements in the general contractor’s bid documents. The signs are not mandatory, but according to the city, they are appropriate "so that interested residents are able to identify project parameters when they encounter such projects," according to city spokeswoman Debby Ackerman. The project signs cost between $300 and $400 and are erected on either side of the construction zone.

Mark questions police behavior: Last week I was approaching the metered ramp lights from Martin Luther King onto Highway 95 north. As the light turned green for the vehicle on my left and I was slowing for the red light in my lane, a Las Vegas police officer flew up the ramp and swerved between us, nearly clipping my left front end. He was traveling at least 80 mph with no lights or sirens. Do they not have to obey the metered ramp lights? And doesn’t the Police Department have a new speeding policy?

We’ll take on your second question first, Mark. Yes, Las Vegas Police enacted a new speeding policy in December after two officers were killed in speed-related accidents. Unless they are engaged in a vehicles pursuit, officers are not permitted to drive more than 20 mph over the posted speed limit.

And, no, police officers are not supposed to blow through the ramp meters if they’re not responding to a call, according to Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Joseph Fackrell. "They can use the express lanes and the HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) lanes, but they’re supposed to obey the meters," Fackrell said.

Dahn asks: What is the status of the plan to have dedicated bus lanes on Sahara Avenue? It’s an idea that seems to make a lot of sense in improving public transit.

Good news, Dahn. The Regional Transportation Commission recently secured an additional $34.4 million in stimulus funding that will push this project forward. The Commission’s plan is to run the new ACE line along Sahara between Boulder Highway and Hualapai Way. A dedicated lane will stretch along most of the route on the right side of Sahara. This line is expected to be finished in early 2012.

If you have a question, tip or tirade, call Adrienne Packer at (702) 387-2904, or send an e-mail to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com. Include your phone number.

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