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Fan of U.S. 95 traffic signs wants more of good thing

We like technology. It’s fun, isn’t it?

It lets us work from home. It’s the reason we have fancy iPhones and Androids. It allows us to skip pesky commercials during our favorite TV shows.

And technology helps us drive safely and efficiently with those electronic signs above the Las Vegas Valley freeways. The ones that tell us in bright yellow how many roadway deaths there have been this year, or how many minutes of traffic until we’ll reach upcoming exits.

Those signs are pretty helpful. I frequent the downtown exits of U.S. Highway 95, and just last week the sign near the Eastern Avenue exit warned me that it would take nearly 30 minutes to drive a mere two miles.

So I exited early, drove surface streets and got to work only five minutes late.

Ta-da. Problem solved.

Daniel had a question about those freeway signs.

“I frequently travel on U.S. 95 south and exit onto I-15 south at the Spaghetti Bowl. However, most of the time, I-15 is backed up with a lot of traffic and there is no way to tell. Is it possible that the city can install another electronic reader sign right before the Rancho exit? This would help a lot of motorists because if the traffic sign shows a backup on the highway, we can exit at Rancho instead.”

That’s a good idea for an alternate route. I use Rancho Drive as an alternate if the Martin Luther King ramp is backed up on U.S. 95.

Unfortunately, Damon Hodge with the Transportation Department said he is not aware of plans for those signs being installed anywhere on the Spaghetti Bowl in the near future.

That’s kind of a bummer. However, I do have good news as far as interchange traffic goes.

Pat asked us a question via Twitter about that same interchange. After expanding his skillfully abbreviated words because of the 140-character Twitter limit, this is what Pat wants to know:

“After F Street construction is done, will any of Charleston or Sahara on/off ramps be eliminated?”

The short answer is no, but Hodge elaborated.

The Charleston and Sahara ramps will not be eliminated.

In fact, they will have a complete face-lift in the somewhat-near future, but that’s a whole different ballgame than the F Street construction.

F Street, which should be finished and reopened by the end of next year, will go underneath I-15 to make an easy connection between downtown and West Las Vegas.

(Before we move on to the can of worms Pat has opened with his question, here’s one quick note about the F Street construction that I found out the hard way yesterday. The D Street/Washington on-ramp to I-15 southbound is closed until summer.)

Now, the worms.

The Road Warrior has broached this topic before, but the transportation department hosted a public meeting near the beginning of December that shed some new light on Project NEON. (Hodge said they’re not quite sure why NEON has to be in all capital letters, but that’s the official style and you have to admit, it looks important that way.)

As part of the project, 3.7 miles of freeway including the interchange will be completely renovated.

It looks like ramps. Lots and lots of ramps.

New on-ramps. New off-ramps. New HOV ramps that are totally separate fly-overs from one freeway to the other. Ramps that will help us avoid weaving across three or four lanes so quickly.

Charleston will end up having normal ramps instead of the wacky confusion going on now. Streets will go over the freeway. Streets will go under the freeway.

The transportation department is slated to choose a developer late next year. Some preliminary work will start earlier than that, but actual construction on the freeway should begin in early 2015.

And as with any big project, it will take awhile. Hodge said the transportation department’s estimated end time could be as late as 2019.

We can all probably agree that the interchange needs some help. Until the day all the nice, new spacious lanes open, remember to take big deep breaths as you sit in the slow stop-and-go traffic that will inevitably come with construction.

If you have a question, tip or tirade, send an email to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com. Include your phone number.

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