Elevated expressways vs. light-rail system: Which is best for Las Vegas?

Rarely are governments criticized for moving too quickly on a transportation project.

But that seems to be the case with Clark County’s effort to build an elevated expressway along portions of Koval Lane, Tropicana Avenue, Swenson Street and Paradise Road near McCarran International Airport.

The county unveiled the $200 million proposal in January. The idea is to build two-lane, one-way elevated roads over the tops of existing street rights-of-way.

Bids for the engineering, planning and design of the expressways are due to the county today.

For Koval and Tropicana, the southbound piece, the elevated highway would begin just north of Flamingo Road and would have entrance ramps at Flamingo and Harmon Avenue. When the highway approaches Tropicana and heads east, the elevated portion would dip down to grade level as it crosses in front of McCarran’s north-south runways. Tropicana Avenue traffic, however, would not be able to merge in or out of the expressway.

Once the road turns south onto Paradise, traffic could merge in preparation for splitting to either Terminal 1 or Terminal 3.

The northbound elevated section would begin on Swenson Street just south of Tropicana and includes an option to go over Tropicana, travel west and then merge onto it. The northbound expressway would curve along Swenson near the Thomas & Mack Center, then veer to Paradise Road just north of the Thomas & Mack parking lots. There would be exit ramps at Harmon and Flamingo and the elevated portion would return to grade level just north of Flamingo.

When the plan was unveiled by county Public Works Director Denis Cederburg to the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee in January, it was widely applauded.

But it didn’t take long for some highly respected transportation and urban planners to criticize the plan. Both Tom Skancke, a public representative on the state Transportation Board, and Robert Lang, director of Brookings Mountain West at UNLV, criticized the elevated expressway concept as a “20th century solution to a 21st century problem.” They both advocate the county dedicating its resources to building a light-rail system from the airport to downtown Las Vegas via the Strip. A light-rail system, they argue, would move far more people more efficiently to where they want to go without cars.

Skancke went on record at April’s Nevada Transportation Department board meeting while Lang has written op-ed pieces in the Las Vegas Sun and commented in Las Vegas Review-Journal stories about the issue.

Lang derided the elevated expressway as “a tribute to Robert Moses.” If you Google Robert Moses, you’ll find that his passion was for moving cars and not mass transit. You also may find that many of Moses’ New York projects and clones of them that have been built in other cities are being torn down for various reasons.

Among the prominent projects: San Francisco’s Embarcadero Freeway, the Westside Elevated Highway in Manhattan and Harbor Drive in Portland, Oregon.

In some cases, the expressways produced artificial barriers that split neighborhoods. In some, mass transit systems have been found to be less intrusive and more environmentally sound.

Clark County Commissioner Larry Brown, who came to the defense of Cederburg’s plan at the April Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada meeting, said he likes the expressway concept because it could be built faster than light rail.

Lang disagrees. He said if a plan could be started with local money right away, most of the light-rail design and initial construction could be completed as quickly as the expressway could be built.

Brown said something else that I found a little shocking: If it turns out that light rail is the ultimate transportation solution, the expressway could be torn down in 20 years when trains are ready to roll.

In the background of all this is the possibility of a domed stadium being built on land that is sandwiched between the proposed expressway couplets. One of the biggest concerns of critics of the site of the Las Vegas Sands-Majestic Realty proposal is traffic generation so close to McCarran.

Moving the site elsewhere is under study, but one of the primary purposes of building the stadium at Tropicana and Koval is that it’s close to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas campus.

The whole stadium plan as well as a number of transit options, including light rail, are being vetted by the Tourism Infrastructure Committee.

It seems that it would be wise for the county to do the same.

What do you think, Warrior readers? Full speed ahead on the elevated expressway or dedicate those resources to light rail?

 

Heavy traffic

The south Strip and downtown Las Vegas will be be busy places at the end of the week as locals do their best Hoss Cartwright impressions for Helldorado Days.

Although there will be some activity downtown — Thursday night’s Whiskerino, pub crawl and street dance at El Cortez and Saturday’s Helldorado Days parade at 10 a.m., along the traditional downtown parade route (Fourth Street, between Gass and Ogden avenues) — most Helldorado activity has moved south.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday events will be staged at Las Vegas Village, the outdoor festival venue on Las Vegas Boulevard South, across the street from the Luxor.

Booths, a carnival and rodeo grounds will be open from 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday and until 10 p.m. on Sunday.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson.

Questions and comments should be sent to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com. Please include your phone number. Follow the Road Warrior on Twitter @RJroadwarrior

ad-high_impact_4
News
Indoor farming in Southern Nevada
Experts discuss Nevada's indoor farming industry. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Fontainebleau could have become a Waldorf Astoria
Months after developer Steve Witkoff bought the Fontainebleau last summer, he unveiled plans to turn the mothballed hotel into a Marriott-managed resort called The Drew. But if Richard “Boz” Bosworth’s plans didn’t fall through, the north Las Vegas Strip tower could have become a Waldorf Astoria with several floors of timeshare units. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Springs Preserve Exhibit Shows Off "Nature's Ninjas"
"Nature's Ninjas" arrives at the Springs Preserve, in an exhibit and live show featuring critters that come with natural defenses, from armadillos to snakes, poison dart frogs to scorpions and tarantulas (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CrossRoads of Southern Nevada psychiatric urgent care to open in Las Vegas
Jeff Iverson, who operates the nonprofit sober living facility Freedom House, is opening a private addiction treatment center that will operate a detoxification center and transitional living for substance users trying to recover. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Metro Capt. Jaime Prosser gives update of officer-involved shooting
Metro Capt. Jaime Prosser provides an update about an officer-involved shooting at Radwick Drive and Owens Avenue in the northeast Las Vegas on Thursday. A robbery suspect was shot and killed. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Wayne Newton surprises burglars
Wayne Newton and his wife, Kathleen, arrived at their southeast Las Vegas home shortly before midnight on Wednesday to find two burglars inside their house. The burglars fled and were seen heading north through the property. Las Vegas police quickly set up a perimeter and launched an extensive search of the area, but the suspects were able to escape. It was unclear if the burglars got away with anything of value. Several items, under the watchful eyes of the police, were seen on the ground near the home's main driveway. Neither Newton, nor his wife, were injured. The Newtons were not available for comment.
Police Officers Turn Off Body Cameras
In four separate body camera videos from the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting released Wednesday, officers in a strike team are instructed to turn their body cameras off and comply with the request.
Debra Saunders reports from Singapore
Las Vegas Review-Journal White House correspondent talks about the historic summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un.
How long will North Korea's denuclearization take?
In Singapore, Las Vegas Review-Journal White House correspondent Debra Saunders asks President Donald Trump how long North Korea's denuclearization will take. White House video.
LVCVA purchase of gift cards hidden
A former LVCVA executive hid the purchase of $90,000 in Southwest Airlines gift cards in records at the agency. Brig Lawson, the senior director of business partnerships, said the money was for promotional events and did not disclose that it was for gift cards. Lawson also instructed Southwest employees to submit invoices without mentioning the purchases were for the cards. More than $50,000 of the cards cannot be accounted for. The convention authority is publicly funded . Lawson recently resigned.
Kim Jong Un visits Marina Bay Sands in Singapore
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his entourage visited the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore briefly Monday night, local time. (Video by Philip Chope)
Coca-Cola Bottle Purse Has 9,888 Diamonds
Designer Kathrine Baumann and jeweler Aaron Shum set the Guinness World Record for most diamonds (9,888) set on a handbag. The Coca Cola bottle-shaped purse was on display at the Coca Cola Store on the Strip. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sentosa Island a pleasure resort with a pirate past
The site of Tuesday's U.S.-North Korea summit is known for theme parks and resorts. But before that, it was known as a pirate island. (Debra Saunders/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Judge Sandra Pomrenze's comment about girl's hair
Nevada Races Full of Women From Both Sides
It's already been a historic election season for women in politics. Record numbers of women are running for political office all over the country - including Nevada. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
East Las Vegas home damaged by fire
Clark County Fire Department crews responded to a house fire in east Las Vegas Thursday morning. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
911 call: Mom tries to get to son shot at Route 91
A woman stuck on the interstate during the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting on Oct. 1, 2017, in Las Vegas, tries to get to her son. 911 call released by Las Vegas police.
Las Vegas 911 caller reports people shot on Oct. 1
A 911 caller on Oct. 1, 2017, reports several people shot at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas.
911 call from woman under stage in Las Vegas shooting
A 911 call from a woman underneath the stage at the Route 91 Harvest festival during the Oct. 1, 2017, Las Vegas shooting.
LVCVA facing scandal over gift cards
LVCVA is facing a growing scandal over airline gift cards. LVCVA bought $90,000 in Southwest Airline gift cards between 2012 and 2017. Now auditors can’t account for more than $50,000 of the cards. CEO Rossi Ralenkotter and his family used $16,207 in gift cards on 56 trips. Brig Lawson, the senior director of business partnerships, was responsible for buying and distributing the cards. He recently resigned.
Siblings separated in the foster care system get a day together
St. Jude's Ranch for Children and Cowabunga Bay Cares program partnered to bring 75 siblings together for the day to play on the water slides and in the pools at the Henderson water park. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
People flee the Route 91 Harvest festival on Oct. 1, 2017
Las Vegas police released footage from a camera on Mandalay Bay of the Route 91 Harvest festival on Oct. 1, 2017
Aaliyah Inghram awarded medal of courage
Aaliyah Inghram, a 10-year-old girl who was shot while protecting her 18-month-old brother and 4-year-old cousin during a shooting on May 8, awarded medal of courage. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Las Vegans Pack Public Lands Open House
A crowd filled the Clark County Library conference room Tuesday afternoon where Clark County officials hold their first -- and possibly only -- public meeting on plans to open almost 39,000 acres of federal land for development just outside the Las Vegas metropolitan area. County commissioners are set to vote June 19 on a potentially controversial resolution seeking federal legislation that would set aside tens of thousands of acres for conservation while giving Nevada’s largest community more room to grow. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Police search Henderson Constable's home and office
Las Vegas police served search warrants Tuesday at Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell's home and office. The investigation was sparked by a Las Vegas Review-Journal story showing Mitchell wrote himself $70,000 in checks, used ATMs at casinos and video poker bars, and traveled to places his adult children live. All using county funds. Police refused to comment but Mitchell's attorney said he did nothing wrong.
Vegas Golden Knights fans shows his colors for community
Vegas Golden Knights superfan Lynn Groesbeck has wrapped his new truck with Knights logos and images. He loves how the Golden Knights are bringing community back to Las Vegas. People stop him on the street to take photos and share his support. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Acting Coach Daryl Morris on His Craft
Acting coach Daryl Morris, whose father Bobby was Elvis Presley's conductor in Las Vegas, discusses his craft and how he leads his own classes. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Constable wanted county funds to fight Review-Journal investigation
The Las Vegas Review-Journal asked for public records to investigate constable spending. But Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell hired outside counsel to fight the request. And he wanted the county to pay nearly $7,500 for those attorneys. The county declined. And records show the constable's office owes taxpayers $700,000. County officials said the money will be repaid over three years. Mitchell abandoned his re-election before the Review-Journal story ran.
BalanceVille Art Car Rides High Above First Friday
First Friday attendees got to ride in BalanceVille, a Burning Man art car that rises 50 feet in the air on a hydraulic lift. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Mecum Las Vegas Auction Draws Motorcycle Enthusiasts
Motorcycle enthusiasts descended on South Point Casino Friday for the Mecum Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction, which featured 600 vintage and collectible motorcycles and bikes. The auction is set to return to Las Vegas in January with more than 1,700 lots. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like