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Despite $111M federal funding whiff, Henderson Spaghetti Bowl project still on track

Funding for massive road projects is a critical element to ensuring they come to fruition.

Most larger projects are funded by a mix of state, local and federal dollars. The more federal money that is awarded the better.

In the case of the planned reconstruction of the Henderson Interchange where U.S. Highway 95/215 Beltway meet, the Nevada Department of Transportation missed out on a federal grant that would have funded up to a third of the projected costs.

The U.S. Department of Transportation denied NDOTs submission to the Mega Grant Program. The program, spurred by the bipartisan infrastructure bill signed in 2020, has $5 billion available for qualifying projects.

NDOT’s request for $111 million was not recommended because the federal Transportation Department deemed the project not cost efficient.

Despite being a large chunk of the $335 million project, the construction will go on.

“The grant mentioned should not change NDOT’s plans for funding this project,” NDOT spokesman Justin Hopkins said. “We planned to deliver the project without the grant.”

The large-scale project is now set to be paid for by funds from the state gas tax.

The project’s scope includes Galleria Drive to Horizon Drive on U.S. 95 and from Valle Verde Drive to Van Wagenen Street on the 215/Lake Mead Parkway.

Also known to drivers as the Henderson Spaghetti Bowl, the interchange opened to traffic in 2006. In the years since the population in Clark County has skyrocketed, and along with that, so has the traffic.

When the interchange was completed 17 years ago, about 1.5 million people lived in the Las Vegas Valley. Now the valley is home to over 2.3 million residents.

There are 191,000 vehicles that travel through the interchange daily, based on 2020 averages. That number is set to rise by 51 percent to 289,000 by 2040, according to NDOT.

The interchange project will be a design-build option, allowing work to begin before the project is fully designed. When the design reaches about 70 percent, work can begin.

The reimagining of the busy interchange aims to address the increasing traffic volume and safety of the current road. The new design is being developed to mitigate crashes and the associated travel congestion.

A crossover interchange is being considered for the project, which would be a rarity as there are only two other versions of such a project in the U.S., according to NDOT.

Access to Gibson Road and Auto Show Drive from U.S. 95 will be restored with the project. Access to those roads was eliminated during a 2019 restriping project.

Motorists can expect work to begin next year and last through 2026, with the cost and the timeline of the project subject to changes as the final design comes together.

“We anticipate the final design in 2024 with construction to start at the end of that year,” Hopkins said. “Further refinement of the design will provide more specific cost and schedule estimates.”

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter. Send questions and comments to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com.

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