By-the-numbers primer on highways, interstates in Clark County

There’s some major work happening on the Las Vegas Valley’s major freeways, so it’s time to answer a pressing question a few of you have asked in recent weeks.

Is it Interstate 95 or U.S. Highway 95 — and what the heck is the difference?

If you guessed U.S. Highway 95, you’re right.

But the road overlaps with Interstate 515 and U.S. Highway 93 for roughly 20 miles between the Spaghetti Bowl interchange and Boulder Highway, Nevada Department of Transportation spokesman Tony Illia said.

The numbered U.S. highway system started in 1926, predating the National Interstate Highway System by 30 years.

For those keeping track, U.S. 95 was designated in 1940, while the I-515 classification came in 1976.

The U.S. highway and interstate systems have road construction standards that determine lane width, shoulders and other items.

One major difference drivers might notice: Interstates are a little fancier and generally paved with better materials.

“The interstate highway system is stricter than highways, requiring two lanes each way, a divided highway, limited access and better roadbeds,” Illia said. “Consequently, multiple highway signs can sometimes be found along the same route sharing a common segment.”

Crosswalk signal fixed

Jay from Las Vegas noticed that the crosswalk signal isn’t working on Rampart Avenue at the entrance to the Boca Park shopping center, near Charleston Boulevard.

“When you push the crosswalk button on the southwest corner to cross Rampart, the ‘walk’ light never turns on,” Jay said. “It always displays the ‘don’t cross’ status.”

Your question prompted the Las Vegas traffic engineering field operations crew to repair the crosswalk signal a few weeks ago, and it should be working properly, city spokeswoman Margaret Kurtz said.

It’s all right

Dennis from Las Vegas wanted to know whether it’s legal for him to pass slower vehicles to the right when traveling on a multi-lane road.

Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Jason Buratczuk said that passing on the right is perfectly legal, as long as it’s safe to make the move. However, you can’t leave the road or travel in the shoulder.

“Slower-moving traffic should always travel in the right lane. However, we all know that doesn’t happen all the time,” Buratczuk said. “Drivers going below the posted speed limit can receive a ticket for impeding the flow of traffic if they are causing traffic to back up.”

New signal needed

Dave noticed a fairly new traffic light at Racetrack Road and Blue Lantern Drive in Henderson, and he wanted to know why it was installed. By his description, Blue Lantern is a narrow street that’s traveled by very few cars.

Henderson city spokeswoman Kim Becker said Blue Lantern serves large residential communities on either side of Racetrack Road, and it provides access to Sue Morrow Elementary School. Traffic signals must meet at least one of the nine standards set by the Federal Highway Administration. After some studies, the city determined that a signal is needed here, Becker said.

Left arrow wanted

Traffic is getting pretty gnarly at Harmon Avenue and Pecos Road on the east end of the valley, prompting Mary from Las Vegas to ask whether Clark County officials plan to install left-turn arrows for the signals at this intersection.

“It’s getting difficult for more than two cars to turn left onto Pecos during rush hour,” Mary said.

There are plans to install left-turn signals, but it’s unclear when that might happen, county spokesman Dan Kulin said. The county needs to acquire additional right-of-way privileges at this intersection in order to make this improvement.

Rough on Range

Pat wanted to know when some rough spots will be fixed along Range Road at both the 215 Beltway interchange and at the intersection with El Campo Grande in North Las Vegas.

There’s no clear plan, but improvements might be included in an upcoming NDOT project to improve the area around Interstate 15 and the 215 Beltway, North Las Vegas city spokeswoman Delen Goldberg said.

Questions and comments should be sent to Please include your phone number. Follow @RJroadwarrior on Twitter.

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