A little teaming and scheming is brewing between Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
The mayoral duo recently met to discuss an array of mutual topics, including a desire to widen the two-lane stretch of Interstate 15 between Barstow and Primm — a feat Goodman and her predecessors have long sought as a way to reduce traffic congestion for Southern Californians driving to Las Vegas.
In order to get those federal and state dollars to pay for such a costly project, Goodman said the conversation needs to shift away from tourism and focus more on interstate trade.
“They don’t care about moving tourists from California to Las Vegas, but they do care about moving cargo trucks and produce through here and to the rest of the country,” said Goodman, who met with Garcetti during the U.S. Conference of Mayors gathering held two weeks ago in Miami Beach, Florida.
“Getting this done is going to be like trying to get a major league team to come here,” Goodman said. “Look at how long that’s taken.”
Of the 42.9 million visitors to Las Vegas in 2016, about 27 percent came from Southern California — the majority of whom drove along Interstate 15, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The gridlock is compounded by big rigs delivering electronics, clothes and other goods shipped through Southern California’s ports in Los Angeles, Long Beach and San Diego on to the rest of the country.
The average travel time between San Bernardino and Las Vegas is 3.5 hours, while the southbound trip can last up to 7 hours on Sunday afternoons due to bottlenecks near Primm and Barstow, according to an updated master plan released earlier this year by the California Department of Transportation, known as Caltrans.
The Caltrans report also noted that the cost of congestion on the entire stretch of I-15 equates to $6.2 billion annually, with more than half attributed to choke points between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
And yet, widening I-15 between Barstow and Primm isn’t on the agency’s list of planned projects into the near future.
“Mayor Garcetti is open to new ideas for growing America’s economy and creating more good-paying jobs in Los Angeles,” Garcetti spokesman Alex Comisar said of the “exploratory discussion” last month with Goodman.
Of course, mayors don’t have the authority to decide whether to add a traffic lane in each direction of a major freeway, particularly the lengthy 113-mile section of I-15 running from Barstow to Primm.
Goodman said she is enlisting help from Rudy Malfabon, director of the Nevada Department of Transportation. Malfabon said he had previously discussed the topic with Caltrans and confirmed that the agency doesn’t have any immediate plans to widen I-15.
But Goodman said she is determined to get the ball rolling before she leaves office.
“Eric has my cell number, and I have his,” Goodman said. “It’s an exciting time, and I know he really gets it.”
Interstate 11 is quickly coming into place near Boulder City, including impressive pieces of artwork that illustrate scenes from the construction of Hoover Dam.
Lorraine from Las Vegas called the work “fantastic” and wanted to know who chose the design.
The Nevada Department of Transportation held several public meetings to solicit suggestions for the freeway artistry.
Design Workshop, an international architecture firm, incorporated the feedback into a 28-foot-tall “visual centerpiece” of multicolored graphics and steel figures spanning a 1,200-foot-long concrete retaining wall, NDOT spokesman Tony Illia said. The wall is coated with a special anti-graffiti film to deter vandals.
“It reflects the region’s social, cultural and economic history, while acting as an iconic graphic gateway into Boulder City,” Illia said.
Mary from Henderson wanted to know whether city officials plan to widen Green Valley Parkway near Horizon Ridge Parkway, because of the constant traffic jams in the area.
There are no improvement projects currently planned for this intersection, Henderson city spokeswoman Kim Becker said,
“Any widening of the roadway here would require purchasing private property at a premium,” Becker said. “It doesn’t seem to be a likely scenario since all corners are fully developed.”
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Road Work Ahead
■ Decatur Boulevard onramp to U.S. Highway 95 is restricted until July 27. Crews are erecting highway signs.
■ Valley View Boulevard onramp to U.S. Highway 95 is restricted until July 27. Crews are erecting highway signs.
■ Martin Luther King Boulevard offramp from northbound U.S. Highway 95 will be closed through mid-September. Crews are rebuilding the ramp.
■ Martin Luther King Boulevard is closed between Oakey Boulevard and Interstate 15 through July. Crews are installing drainage boxes.
■ Oakey Boulevard is closed between Main and Commerce streets through July. Crews are installing underground utilities and storm drain infrastructure.
■ Washington Avenue is restricted between Martin Luther King Boulevard and Rancho Drive through Aug. 1. Crews are installing gas lines.
■ U.S. 95 will be restricted between Valley View Boulevard and Rancho Drive through the end of August. Crews are installing foundations for traffic management signs.
■ U.S. Highway 95 will be restricted between Rancho Road and just east of Interstate 15 through January 2018. Crews are building a new flyover ramp for high-occupancy vehicles as part of Project Neon.
■ Main Street is restricted between Bonneville Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard through May 2018. Crews are working on a storm drain.
■ 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.
■ Eastern Avenue will be restricted between Flamingo Road and Rochelle Avenue from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday until Aug. 11. Crews are doing sewer work.
■ Owens Avenue will be restricted between Lamb Boulevard and Lovebird Avenue through Aug. 10. Crews are doing sewer work.
■ Owens Avenue will be restricted between Nellis Boulevard and Lamont Street through Aug. 21. Crews are doing sewer work.
■ Northbound U.S. Highway 95 will be narrowed to one lane between Ann Road and the 215 Beltway from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. through Friday. Crews are building a new freeway bridge.
■ Southbound U.S. Highway 95 will be narrowed to one lane between Elkhorn and Ann roads from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. through Friday. Crews are building a new freeway bridge.
■ 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.
■ The 13-mile scenic route at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area will be repaved in one-mile increments through August.
North Las Vegas
■ Range Road will be closed between Tropical Parkway and El Campo Grande Avenue from 2 to 5 a.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Crews are working on bridge improvements.
The average gasoline price Friday in the Las Vegas Valley was $2.57 per gallon. It was $2.63 in Nevada. The national average of $2.26 is up 3 cents from a week ago, down 9 cents from a month ago and up 1 cent from a year ago.
Las Vegas Review-Journal