Officials test US public transit options for Raiders stadium

The Raiders won’t kick off in Las Vegas until 2020, but it isn’t too early to figure out how to get fans to the stadium.

Officials on the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada are hoping to learn a few lessons by taking road trips to several stadiums across the country.

“I’m a firm believer in going out and touching and feeling the experience so we can learn from other cities on how they did it best,” RTC General Director Tina Quigley said. “We want to know their successes, their challenges and what they would have done differently so we can make sure we have the best system available in Las Vegas.”

It turns out that public transit plays a pretty big role on game day.

During her travels, Quigley learned that roughly 25 percent of Atlanta Falcons fans take light rail to football games at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, while more than 30 percent of Oakland Raiders fans hop aboard the Bay Area’s subway system for home games.

Las Vegas does not have a rail system, and it appears there won’t be much room for parking at the new stadium. As a result, the RTC is focusing on increased bus transit on game days, similar to the Golden Knights Express buses that ferry hockey fans to T-Mobile Arena.

And given the heavy focus on tourism in Las Vegas, expect throngs of out-of-town football fans to make a quick escape to McCarran International Airport following a Sunday game, RTC Deputy General Manager M.J. Maynard said.

“It’s not going to be just Las Vegas residents going to that stadium,” Maynard said. “There will be a lot of movement after the game to the Strip for people who want to stay longer, but there will also be those people who want to fly back home because they have a job to get to on Monday morning.”

Just as the baseball season was winding down and football was ramping up in October, RTC officials traveled to Atlanta to examine traffic patterns at the Falcons’ Mercedes Benz Stadium and Turner Field, former home of the Braves.

It cost $6,645 to send Quigley, Maynard and five other RTC staffers on a three-day trip to Atlanta, where they learned different methods on how to quickly move pedestrians out of both stadiums following a game.

A luxury suite at Turner Field was converted into a traffic management center, similar to one already operated by the RTC, that allowed transportation officials to remotely control traffic signals surrounding the baseball stadium.

“I think we’ll have an opportunity to do that at the new stadium, and it will do well there,” Maynard said.

Quigley, Maynard and one other RTC staffers spent $950 to fly up to Oakland and return the same day on Dec. 3 to observe traffic patterns around the Raiders’ current home. Maynard said she was “stunned” by the fact that roughly one-third of fans arrived by public transit.

“2020 is going to be here before we know it,” Maynard said. “I think that understanding the potential success of effectively moving pedestrians and vehicles around the stadium starts now.”

‘Right on schedule’

Karl from North Las Vegas appears upset that crews are taking too long to complete the widening of Interstate 15 between Craig Road and Speedway Boulevard and wanted an update.

The $33.8 million project is running “right on schedule” and should be finished by mid-2018, said Tony Illia, a spokesman for the Nevada Department of Transportation. Construction started last October, with crews working five days a week from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

When completed, that 5-mile stretch of freeway will be widened to three travel lanes in each direction, Illia said. Plans also call for brighter lights, new signs, landscaping improvements and seismic upgrades to four overpass bridges.

The upgrade is expected to relieve traffic congestion during major events held at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Road not so grand

Dale from Las Vegas said Grand Teton Drive has been in “horrible condition” near Oso Blanca Road ever since a torrential downpour “ripped up the street” about five years ago. Since then, a developer has built houses on both sides of the heavily traveled street.

“I am tired of having my car beat up” by the rough patches, Dale said.

Engineers from the Las Vegas Public Works Department are designing a bridge that will go over U.S. Highway 95 at Grand Teton Drive, along with storm drain improvements just west of Oso Blanca, city spokeswoman Margaret Kurtz said.

That project is slated to begin in 2019, but Kurtz said crews will soon evaluate the pavement along Grand Teton to determine whether immediate repairs are needed.

Road work ahead

Downtown

■ Ninth Street is closed between Carson and Main streets through Dec. 31. Crews are installing water and sewer lines.

■ The ramp connecting southbound U.S. Highway 95 to northbound Interstate 15 is closed through January 2018. Crews are building a carpool ramp.

■ 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.

Northwest

■ Grand Teton Drive is restricted between El Capitan Way and Buffalo Drive from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays through early January. Crews are making road improvements.

Henderson

■ Center Street is restricted between Burkholder Boulevard and Lake Mead Parkway through June 2018. Crews are making various road improvements.

North Las Vegas

■ Nellis Boulevard is restricted between Cheyenne Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard from 6 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekdays through July 2018. Crews are installing sewer pipes.

Gasoline prices

The average gasoline price Friday in the Las Vegas Valley was $2.59 per gallon. It was $2.68 in Nevada. The national average of $2.44 is steady from a week ago, down 8 cents from a month ago and up 18 cents from a year ago.

Questions and comments should be sent to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com. Please include your phone number. Find @RJroadwarrior on Twitter.

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