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Local gaming giant has concerns with Tropicana/I-15 revamp

Updated September 27, 2021 - 11:52 am

While a revamp of the Interstate 15/Tropicana Avenue interchange is touted as a needed improvement to traffic flow in the vicinity of several major Las Vegas event centers, one local gaming giant disagrees.

The planned $305 million project is aimed at smoothing traffic funneled to the south end of the Las Vegas Strip, T-Mobile Arena and Allegiant Stadium. But Station Casinos says the project poses potential transportation issues for a long-planned resort project in the immediate area.

Station Casinos officials have concerns with some of the road project’s design as they own a nearly 100-acre lot on the northwest corner of Tropicana and Dean Martin Drive, the former site of the Wild Wild West Gambling Hall. The land sits across Dean Martin from an In-N-Out Burger restaurant.

Scott Kreeger, senior vice president of development for Station Casinos, said during a Sept. 13 state Board of Transportation meeting that the land can accommodate a multibillion dollar Las Vegas Strip-style megaresort.

“This represents an enormous existing capital commitment with our company and with the potential for us to continue to spend an enormous amount of further capital on the project,” Kreeger said at the meeting. “This project represents, additionally, an opportunity to create thousands of construction jobs as well as permanent jobs once we open for operation. As well, it will be a new source of tax revenue for both the state and the county.”

There is no timeline for when work on the possible project — identified as Viva Resort in materials presented at the meeting — could begin.

“We are actively seeking entitlement rights for this site (Wild Wild West) now, so it is in the predevelopment stage,” Kreeger said. “An actual timeline of when we’ll be putting shovels in the ground has yet to be determined.”

Additionally, Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics have shown interest in the site as a possible location for a $1 billion ballpark if they relocate to the area. Station Casinos had no comment regarding possible discussions with the A’s about the land.

Nevada Department of Transportation officials said the long-planned Tropicana/I-15 project should get underway early next year following the likely approval of Kiewit Infrastructure West’s contract next month.

Plans for the interchange include reconfiguring Dean Martin to run underneath Tropicana, eliminating the traffic signal for Dean Martin at Tropicana. Access to the northwest and southwest areas would be via frontage roads connecting Tropicana and Dean Martin.

“The way that the plan is currently contemplated, we are not satisfied that this meets our requirement for future development of the site,” Kreeger said. “The ingress and egress that is currently being proposed will limit our ability to develop to the full potential of the project.”

A site map presented during the meeting displayed a massive resort with various hotel towers, a large casino and various parking structures. There would be multiple access points in the proposed road construction plan, including from Dean Martin and from Tropicana.

“We’re just really concerned that with what we’re looking at right now right at that interchange, it’s going to put a little constriction on how our customers get in and get out of the project,” said Albie Colotto, coordinator of architecture and design at Station Casinos.

Gov. Steve Sisolak noted during the meeting that the Tropicana project has been planned for years and he doesn’t want it dragged out any longer. So, he asked that state transportation officials, Station Casinos representatives and other stakeholders meet before October’s transportation board meeting to hopefully resolve the issues.

“Once you start putting shovels into the ground it’s hard to make changes,” Sisolak said. “I fully understand how important ingress and egress is for the viability of your project to begin with and I don’t want to stifle access to that because, candidly, I want you to be as successful as possible, but those jobs are really important to me.”

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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