Drivers traveling between Las Vegas and Boulder City might notice that the new Interstate 11 is taking shape.
New bridges and retaining walls line a graded dirt path that will become a four-lane highway that’s eventually expected to ease cross-border trade from Mexico to Canada by running through Arizona, Nevada and Idaho.
The $318 million freeway segment currently under construction only runs 15 miles between Henderson’s southern border and the O’Callaghan-Tillman Bridge downstream from Hoover Dam, looping past Boulder City.
Construction started in April 2015, with the Nevada Department of Transportation working on a 2.5-mile stretch of I-11 closest to Las Vegas and the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada completing the rest of the segment.
But what comes after this freeway section is completed in fall 2018?
Bob from Las Vegas wanted to know why there’s been so much debate on where I-11 should run north into the Las Vegas Valley.
Three routes are under consideration, but Bob called two of the options “a disaster.”
Those proposed routes would use mostly existing highway infrastructure that might have to be expanded:
■ West on the 215 Beltway, winding up to a new connection with U.S. Highway 95.
■ North on U.S. 95 through the Spaghetti Bowl to the northwest end of the valley.
■ The third option would involve building a new freeway that would run from the Lake Mead National Recreation Area past Frenchman Mountain, about 8 miles east of Las Vegas, before emerging at Interstate 15, where it would connect with the 215 Beltway west to U.S. 95.
In each case, the I-11 corridor would exit the valley to the north along the existing U.S. Highway 95.
The proposed option to build a new freeway segment is “more costly, but it’s a no-brainer because it would bypass all of the routes that are currently congested,” Bob wrote in an email to the Road Warrior. “It just seems like common sense.”
Perhaps so, Bob. But NDOT officials are still examining where the next segment of I-11 should run. A $5.3 million traffic study analyzing all of the valley’s major freeway corridors — including I-11 — is expected to be completed by spring 2018, NDOT spokesman Tony Illia said.
“Interstate 11 plays an integral role serving the mountain-west region, which is expected to add 32 million more residents between now and 2030,” Illia said. “It will also eventually connect Las Vegas and Phoenix, which are the country’s two largest cities currently not linked by an interstate.”
Carla from North Las Vegas said she regularly sees drivers making U-turns in front of Swainston Middle School during the morning drop-off and afternoon pickup periods.
“I thought there was a law passed in 2015 that makes U-turns illegal in school zones,” Carla wrote in an email to the Road Warrior. “It’s an accident waiting to happen.”
Great question, Carla, considering Clark County schools reopen Tuesday after the winter break.
Nevada Highway Patrol has worked this year with Clark County School Police to alert parents to a law that went into effect on Oct. 1, 2015, that made it illegal to complete a U-turn in school zones because it poses a risk to children, NHP Trooper Jason Buratczuk said.
Some officers have handed out notes explaining the law to parents, while others wrote citations for violators at some Las Vegas Valley campuses.
“While I understand your concern, efforts are being made to make sure parents know the law and that we enforce it when it’s broken,” Buratczuk said.
Calvin from Las Vegas said he always sees cars without license plates on local roads and freeways.
“Is there anything I can do to report them?” Calvin asked the Road Warrior.
Unfortunately, there isn’t. The Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles does not have a hotline or online resources that allow people to report vehicles without license plates, DMV spokesman Kevin Malone said.
But keep in mind, it is legal to drive without plates if motorists have a movement permit issued by the DMV, Malone said. Those movement permits must be taped to the lower right corner of the vehicle’s windshield.
“You may see a car with no plate in the rear, but not be able to see the movement permit in the windshield,” Malone said.
Questions and comments should be sent to email@example.com. Please include your phone number. Follow the Road Warrior on Twitter: @RJroadwarrior
ROAD WORK AHEAD
■ Lake Mead Boulevard will be restricted in both directions between Walnut Road and Marion Drive from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. weekdays from Tuesday to Jan. 27. Crews are completing sewer work.
■ Southbound Durango Drive will be restricted between Wigwam Avenue and Blue Diamond Road from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays from Tuesday to Jan. 20. Crews are conducting field survey work.
■ Clark Avenue is restricted at Fourth Street until Jan. 27 because of utility work.
■ Nellis Boulevard will be restricted around Bel Port Drive until Jan. 13. Crews are completing sewer work.
■ The carpool fly-over bridge connecting northbound U.S. Highway 95 to westbound Summerlin Parkway is closed through the end of January. Crews are extending the parkway’s westbound carpool lane.
■ The northbound Buffalo Drive on-ramp to westbound Summerlin Parkway is closed through the end of January. Crews are extending the parkway’s westbound carpool lane.
■ Frank Sinatra Drive near the Mandalay Bay parking garage will be closed during overnight hours from Tuesday to Feb. 22. Crews are working on the hotel’s pylon sign.
■ The Interstate 15 northbound and southbound ramps connecting to northbound U.S. Highway 95 will be closed until late February. Crews are building a new bridge as part of Project Neon.
■ The Interstate 15 northbound and southbound ramps connecting to Martin Luther King Boulevard will be closed until late February. Crews are building a new bridge as part of Project Neon.
■ The ramp leading from westbound Warm Springs Road to the westbound 215 Beltway will be closed from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. Sundays through Fridays until mid-March. Crews are working on the new flyover ramp and bridge.
■ Traffic will be redirected and reduced to one lane in each direction of U.S. Highway 95 for about a mile in Boulder City through March. Crews are building a bridge over the highway for the future Interstate 11 corridor.
■ Valley Drive is being widened between Tropical Parkway and Cheyenne Avenue in North Las Vegas, with completion expected in March.
■ Northbound U.S. Highway 95 will be reduced to one lane between Craig Road and the Beltway from 8:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. weekdays through June. Crews are working on the Centennial Bowl ramps.
■ Southbound U.S. Highway 95 will be reduced to one lane between Durango Drive and Ann Road from 8:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. weekdays through June. Crews are working on the Centennial Bowl ramps.
■ Summerlin Parkway’s westbound lanes will be restricted between Buffalo Drive and Rampart Boulevard through July. Crews are building a new auxiliary lane and making other improvements.
■ 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 average gasoline price Friday in the Las Vegas Valley was $2.38 per gallon. It was $2.42 in Nevada. The national average of $2.32 is up 4 cents from a week ago, up 17 cents from a month ago and up 32 cents from a year ago.