Updated July 6, 2020 - 10:47 am
Interstate 15 traffic volumes are creeping up as resort properties continue to reopen, but officials say don’t expect those numbers to ramp up to normal levels anytime soon.
With the first casinos reopening June 4, there has been a slight uptick in traffic on I-15 at the California-Nevada border, but it’s still below normal.
“In comparison to this time last year, we are averaging a 15 to 20 percent decline in weekend traffic volumes along I-15 near state line,” said MJ Maynard, CEO of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada. “We do not anticipate seeing a year-over-year increase in traffic volumes while many counties in California still maintain their stay-at-home orders.”
On June 5, the first Friday after casinos reopened, the I-15 northbound volume at Primm was up 37 percent over the previous Friday, but it was still 27 percent lower than the volume on the first Friday of June 2019.
In weekend two — June 12-14 — traffic volumes were 17 percent below 2019’s total on I-15 at the state line, both north and southbound. Traffic volumes were 19 percent below 2019’s figures during the third weekend of the month, June 18-21, and 18 percent below for the fourth weekend, June 25-28.
The RTC continues to monitor the traffic volume, including this past holiday weekend, and encourages all those traveling in-and-out of the area to be safe.
“Wear face coverings and practice safe social distancing while in public spaces,” Maynard said.
The AAA expects those traveling this summer will do so mainly by road, as confidence in air travel continues to increase slowly with the various safety restrictions in place.
About 97 percent of summer trips are expected to be road trips, up from the 87 percent average over the past five years, the AAA reports.
Overall, the number of those taking summer roads trips is expected to dip only 3 percent compared with last year, with air travel decreasing at an expected 74 percent rate this summer.
“Americans will get out and explore this summer though they’re taking a ‘wait and see approach’ when it comes to booking and are likely to book more long weekend getaways than extended vacations,” said Sergio Avila, spokesperson for AAA Nevada, in a statement. “When they do venture out, the greatest share of travelers — 683 million — will take to the road to satisfy their wanderlust.”
When it comes to AAA’s TripTik destination searches, some prominent travel destinations like Orlando, Florida, saw a dip, going from the most-searched city destination to eighth. But Las Vegas held steady as the second-most searched destination in searches between March 15 and June 14, according to the AAA.
It also expects those hitting the roads won’t see normal or increased traffic volume compared with last year’s volumes in Nevada, as they’re projected to remain below normal through the summer.
A nearly $6 million, six-month upgrade project on a stretch of Jones Boulevard kicks off this week.
Rejuvenation work will starts Monday on Jones between Upland Boulevard, just south of U.S. Highway 95, and Smoke Ranch Road, the Nevada Department of Transportation announced last week.
The scope of the project includes replacing and repaving the surface with new asphalt. The enhancements will create a smoother, safer driving surface, while eliminating cracking, rutting and dips.
“This project will rejuvenate a critical but deteriorating stretch of roadway, eliminating cracking and ruts while also creating a smoother and safer driving experience,” said Tony Illia, Transportation Department spokesman. “This two-mile section of Jones Boulevard roughly averages about 26,000 vehicles daily.”
Other improvements include handicap-accessible curb and gutter upgrades and installing pedestrian-activated crosswalks at Carmen Boulevard, Carl Avenue and Eugene Avenue.
Crews are scheduled to work daily from 6 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Work will start at Smoke Ranch, working southbound, resulting in lane restrictions. The project is expected to finish in January 2021.