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Nevada’s transportation system No. 1 in US despite complaints

If you pay attention to social media, it would appear the Las Vegas Valley transportation system is in dire straits with the seemingly constant gripes about high occupancy vehicle lanes, Project Neon-related delays and traffic signal timing.

But you might be surprised to learn that Nevada recently was named the top state when it comes to transportation.

Rankings published by U.S. News and World Report this month named Nevada the 37th best state overall, but the Silver State’s bright spot was being ranked first in transportation.

The transit rankings were derived by factoring in commute time, public transit usage and road and bridge quality.

Nevada’s best showing was in its bridge quality, where it ranked third, followed by 10th in public transit usage, 16th in road quality and 22nd in commute time.

In line with the national report, the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance revealed Las Vegans are generally pleased with their road conditions.

Almost 50 percent of the approximately 500 people surveyed by the LVGEA said roads were in at least good shape, with 7 percent saying they were in excellent shape.

Las Vegans appear to use those roads enough to accurately describe them. Almost 62 percent of those surveyed said their commute is between 16 and 30 minutes a day.

It’s not surprising the top transportation issue chosen by those surveyed by the LVGEA was traffic congestion.

The constant influx of new residents and visitors on valley roads suggests we all had better get used to congestion. And with issues like right-of-way acquisition and space constraints, expansion is not possible for many heavily traveled roads.

As for Project Neon, the largest public works project in the state’s history, 34.2 percent of respondents rated the construction efforts tied to the project as excellent or good, with just 12.8 percent ranking the performance poor.

According to the survey, mass transportation needs attention, with 70 percent saying Southern Nevada would benefit from a high-capacity transit system such as light rail.

The transportation project that was ranked most important to respondents was improving pedestrian flow on Las Vegas Boulevard by constructing new walkways.

Those who voted for that are in luck, as Clark County already has a new walkway underway to connect Park MGM with the MGM Grand and it has two more on the docket, including one at Sahara Avenue and one tentatively set to link Bellagio and Planet Hollywood Resort.

The second most popular transportation project is extending the Las Vegas Monorail to McCarran International Airport. Proponents aren’t so lucky, as it’s highly unlikely that will ever occur.

The monorail is finding it tough to secure loans to extend the system from the MGM Grand to Mandalay Bay. Potential airport right-of-way issues and Federal Aviation Administration clearances would also present hurdles officials would need to clear.

Regionally, linking Los Angeles and Las Vegas via high-speed train was the top transportation topic. For the first time since the project’s inception, it appears that there is a real possibility such a rail line is built in the near future now that Brightline, which operates a train system in Florida, has teamed up with Virgin Trains USA.

Widening Interstate 15 between Las Vegas and Southern California and completing Interstate 11 to connect Las Vegas with Phoenix were the next two most popular choices among respondents. Las Vegas and California officials have talked in the past about possibly carrying out a feasibility study, but nothing concrete has developed on that end.

Meanwhile, the Arizona Department of Transportation is conducting an environmental impact study on I-11. It is set to present its findings and the preferred route for the interstate next year.

With the new HOV lane system still in its infancy, we’ll reserve judgment for now. But no matter how bad you believe the traffic is in Las Vegas, you can at least take heart knowing that, overall, we’re No. 1.

Send questions and comments to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com. Please include your phone number. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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