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New I-15 part-time lane pushes traffic bottleneck south of NV-CA border

Updated September 18, 2023 - 2:06 pm

The recently added part-time lane on Interstate 15 southbound just past the Nevada-California border seems to be doing its job. The lane has helped relieve some traffic congestion during its first weekend of operation.

Allowing motorists to access the third lane on Sundays and Mondays on I-15 southbound from the border to the agricultural checkpoint saved drivers some time commuting back to Southern California from Southern Nevada.

“Drivers heading to Southern California from Las Vegas have experienced less congestion and shorter delays on southbound Interstate 15 with the recent opening of the part-time travel lane,” Caltrans spokeswoman Carolina Rojas said in an email. “On Labor Day leading into 12 p.m., drivers saved approximately 20 to 40 minutes in travel time from Jean to the agricultural station.”

The $5.1 million project restriped and repaved the shoulder to be used during times of heavy traffic. On busy holiday weekends, traffic heading back to Southern California from Las Vegas can back up as much as 25 miles.

Caltrans noted that on Labor Day traffic became heavy starting at Primm, a 12-mile improvement compared with past years when backups started around Jean.

Although the opening of the part-time lane moved most of the heavy traffic out of the Nevada side of the interstate, Nevada Department of Transportation Director Tracy Larkin Thomason said it didn’t completely do the trick.

“It basically seems that the bottleneck has moved from Nevada to Mountain Pass, California … but it is moving and opened up and has helped relieve a little of the congestion along the way,” Thomason said during last week’s NDOT board meeting.

Thomason also noted that heavy rains seen that weekend in the area might have affected traffic volume on I-15, making it less busy than a normal holiday weekend.

Since the part-time lane and its days of usage are new, some motorists were confused by the added road feature.

“There are a couple of things we’re going to have to work through, people were not quite sure about using the shoulder,” Thomason said. “So a bit of people stopping and figuring it out.”

Caltrans said they are working with NDOT to further measure impacts of the part-time lane across the border. No additional I-15 southbound enhancement projects are in the works for Caltrans.

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on X. Send questions and comments to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com.

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