Driving around Las Vegas will dramatically change over the next two years.
Rather than express lanes, motorists will be able to access carpool lanes along Interstate 15. And, giant, dynamic digital screens will tell us how fast to drive and warn of potential traffic snarls.
The improvements are part of the $1 billion Project Neon, which calls for widening the Spaghetti Bowl freeway interchange of I-15 and U.S. Highway 95 by 2019. Just a year into construction, Project Neon is about 40 percent complete.
David from Las Vegas said he noticed crews installing some of the electronic signs near downtown, and wanted to know when the black screens will start flashing displaying information.
The first full-color digital sign along northbound U.S. 95 will go online sometime in October, warning commuters to slow down as they approach ongoing construction through the Spaghetti Bowl, said Tony Illia, a spokesman for the Nevada Department of Transportation.
By the end of the year, five more Active Traffic Management signs will be operating along U.S. 95, along with three signs on I-15 as a way to help reduce accidents and stop-and-go traffic for the 300,000 vehicles that travel daily through Nevada’s busiest freeway interchange.
The system boasts a system of sensors lining the freeway that will detect heavy congestion, car crashes, bad weather and other conditions that could impact traffic. That real-time information is immediately relayed to digital signs that will lower the speed limit.
Joel from Las Vegas wanted to know the purpose of the two express lanes running along both directions of I-15 between Sahara Avenue and Silverado Ranch Boulevard, and when to expect the conversion to carpool lanes.
For now, drivers can use the express lanes as the vehicle’s sole occupant, but may enter only at designated areas. Crossing the double white lines can land you a minimum $190 fine, even as NDOT plans to move away from the express lane system.
By time work wraps up on Project Neon two years from now, the express lanes will be converted into one general travel lane and one carpool lane in each direction, Illia said. The move will create 22 consecutive miles of carpool lanes between I-15 and U.S. 95, requiring at least two people per vehicle.
Additionally, an 81-foot-tall flyover ramp will be built for high-occupancy vehicles. When completed, the new carpool ramp will have one lane for drivers headed from southbound U.S. 95 to southbound I-15 and another connecting northbound I-15 to northbound U.S. 95.
The two-way concrete ramp, measuring a half-mile long, will be accessible from the center lane of both freeways.
“Carpooling reduces commute times with higher travel speeds and fewer delays,” Illia said. “There is also less cutting in and out of traffic for a safer, less stressful drive.”
Until those changes come, commuters can still expect many more lane restrictions and ramp closures around the Spaghetti Bowl until construction concludes.
Henry from Las Vegas noticed that a median was removed at the northwest corner of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Alta Drive, just two years after it was built.
Good eye, Henry.
This median was installed about two years ago for $3.6 million to improve traffic safety, but Las Vegas city officials knew all along that it would eventually be removed by NDOT to accommodate the widening of Interstate 15 as part of Project Neon.
As a result, the city used lower-cost materials and did not place any landscaping along the median, Las Vegas city spokeswoman Margaret Kurtz said.
“Because Project Neon was expected to be a four-year project, and at the time the design-build team was not selected yet, we did not know how long this median would last,” Kurtz said.
The construction company that was hired to complete Project Neon accelerated work to a three-year timeline, and Kurtz said that this intersection was scheduled for improvements during an early phase.
Removing the median will cost $315,000, Kurtz said. A newly reconfigured Martin Luther King Boulevard is scheduled to open by early September, NDOT officials said.
“We did our best to coordinate and minimize costs on the safety median,” Kurtz said.
Additional auxiliary lanes
Rick from Las Vegas wanted to know whether additional auxiliary lanes will be added to Summerlin Parkway, similar to a project completed on the westbound lanes between Durango Drive and Rampart Boulevard.
The next round of improvements are expected to begin by the end of this year, including auxiliary lanes that will give motorists additional time to merge on or off the parkway, Kurtz said.
Expect to see auxiliary lanes added on the eastbound parkway from the 215 Beltway to Anasazi Drive, another from Town Center Drive to Rampart and a third from Rampart to Buffalo Drive. An auxiliary lane will also be added to the westbound parkway from Rampart to Town Center.
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Road work ahead
■ California Avenue is restricted between Casino Center Boulevard and Main Street through Friday. Crews are working on water and sewer lines.
■ Third Street is restricted between Charleston and Oakey boulevards through Aug. 15. Crews are installing utilities.
■ Ogden Avenue is restricted at 11th Street through Aug. 21. Crews are working on a water line.
■ U.S. 95 will be restricted between Valley View Boulevard and Rancho Drive through the end of August. Crews are installing foundations for traffic management signs.
■ Martin Luther King Boulevard offramp from northbound U.S. Highway 95 will be closed through mid-September. Crews are rebuilding the ramp.
■ Washington Avenue is restricted between Robin Street and Rancho Drive through Oct. 19. Crews are working on a channel project.
■ Main Street is restricted between Fremont Street and Ogden Avenue through Dec. 20. Crews are demolishing a building.
■ Ninth Street is closed between Carson and Main streets through Dec. 31. Crews are installing water and sewer lines.
■ U.S. Highway 95 will be restricted between Rancho Road and just east of Interstate 15 through January 2018. Crews are building a new flyover ramp for high-occupancy vehicles as part of Project Neon.
■ Main Street is restricted between Bonneville Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard through May 2018. Crews are working on a storm drain.
■ 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 Las Vegas Boulevard offramps and onramps at southbound U.S. Highway 95 will be closed from 9 p.m. Monday to 5 a.m. Tuesday. Crews are placing pavement markings and new striping.
■ The Las Vegas Boulevard onramp at northbound U.S. Highway 95 will be closed from 9 p.m. Monday to 5 a.m. Tuesday. Crews are placing pavement markings and new striping.
■ The Las Vegas Boulevard offramp at northbound U.S. Highway 95 will be closed from 9 p.m. Tuesday to 5 a.m. Wednesday. Crews are placing pavement markings and new striping.
■ The Eastern Avenue offramps and onramps at southbound U.S. Highway 95 will be closed from 9 p.m. Tuesday to 5 a.m. Wednesday. Crews are placing pavement markings and new striping.
■ The Boulder Highway offramp at southbound U.S. Highway 95 will be closed from 9 p.m. Wednesday to 5 a.m. Thursday. Crews are placing pavement markings and new striping.
■ The Eastern Avenue offramps and onramps at northbound U.S. Highway 95 will be closed from 9 p.m. Wednesday to 5 a.m. Thursday. Crews are placing pavement markings and new striping.
■ Eastern Avenue will be restricted between Flamingo Road and Rochelle Avenue from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. through Friday. Crews are doing sewer work.
■ Owens Avenue will be restricted between Lamb Boulevard and Lovebird Avenue through Thursday. Crews are doing sewer work.
■ Owens Avenue will be restricted between Nellis Boulevard and Lamont Street through Aug. 21. Crews are doing sewer work.
■ Eastern Avenue will be restricted between Flamingo Road and Tompkins Avenue through Sept. 29. Crews are doing sewer work.
■ Farm Road is restricted between Durango Drive and Tule Springs Road through Aug. 14. Crews are working on water and sewer lines.
■ Torrey Pines Drive is restricted at Azure Drive trhough Aug. 17. Crews are working on a storm drain.
■ Grand Teton Drive is restricted between Hualapai Way and Egan Crest Drive through Aug. 20. Crews are working on water and sewer lines.
■ The 13-mile scenic route at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area will be repaved in one-mile increments through August.
■ Appaloosa Road will be restricted between Wagonwheel Drive and Rawhide Drive through late October. Crews are installing a storm drain.
■ Center Street will be restricted between Burkholder Boulevard and Lake Mead Parkway through June 2018. Crews are making various road improvements.
North Las Vegas
■ Nellis Boulevard will be restricted between Cheyenne Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard from 6 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekdays from Friday through July 2018. Crews are installing sewer pipes.
The average gasoline price Friday in the Las Vegas Valley was $2.54 per gallon. It was $2.62 in Nevada. The national average of $2.35 is up 4 cents from a week ago, up 13 cents from a month ago and up 23 cents from a year ago.
Las Vegas Review-Journal