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Render unto McCarran …

Not everybody is interested in every road project in the Las Vegas Valley; obviously it depends on where you live and where you work. Most residents, however, are interested in issues related to McCarran International Airport — especially when it affects our pocketbooks — because we all use it. With that said, we’ll start today off with Ron.

Ron is charged up: Why do taxis have a surcharge for rides from McCarran International Airport?

The $1.80 fee charged to passengers leaving McCarran and its rental car facility is essentially dues paid to the airport for using airport property. The cab companies do not keep any of that money, said Elisabeth Daniels, spokeswoman for the Nevada Taxicab Authority.

The Department of Aviation is its own self-contained enterprise, which means none of its revenue comes from Clark County’s general fund. The airport must generate its own funding to pay for costs related to operations and maintenance of its facilities and paying off debt service tied to major projects such as the roadways — including the connector tunnel — and parking garages. Any revenue left over is used to reduce the airport’s landing fees and terminal rent charges, spokesman Chris Jones said.

If fees were not assessed to airport users such as cabbies, they would be absorbed by the airlines, and that means you and I would be paying a significant amount more in airfare.

Just one more note. As frustrating as the fee might be, it is not as pricey as surcharges at other airports. Exit fees in Sacramento, Calif., are $3; Kennedy International Airport in New York charges a $3 fee plus an extra peak-time charge of up to $1.

Ed is taking political action: Whatever happened to the plans to widen the 215 in the northwest and bring it up to freeway standards? Also the Interstate 215 and Highway 95 interchange? I have lived in the northwest for over seven years and have put up with the signals and stop-and-go traffic on the 215. How much time and gasoline have been wasted due to their political decision? They refused to use a less expensive, nonunion, state-licensed contractor. I only wish they had to use the 215 two times a day, five days a week, 52 weeks per year. As a result of their decision, I have refused, and encouraged my neighbors to do likewise, to vote for any past or present commissioner when they are running for any political office. So, in conclusion, what is happening?

Ed is correct, the widening of the Las Vegas Beltway between Tenaya Way and Decatur Boulevard has turned into a legal mess that probably won’t be ironed out for a long time.

Las Vegas Paving won the bid to widen the Beltway though its bid was about $4.5 million higher than rival Fisher Sand and Gravel. Fisher sued the county and ordered the project stopped, claiming commissioners were biased toward union contractors.

In 2009, a federal judge ruled that Commissioner Tom Collins, a union-friendly official, could not participate in future discussions about the contract. Collins then turned around and filed a lawsuit, arguing that he shouldn’t be barred from voting on the controversial and contested highway contract.

The project was awarded in April 2009 and probably would have been finished by now were it not for these lawsuits. But word at the county has it that the project will not go forward until the lawsuits are settled. Sorry Ed, your commuting frustrations are understood.

Gregory wants a hookup: Would you be able to supply any update on the plans to extend or connect Galleria Drive in Henderson? This connection would create another access to Highway 95 for those living in Tuscany Village and Calico Ridge communities, rather than using Lake Mead or Boulder Highway to get on highway.

The city of Henderson can’t give us a specific start date for this project unfortunately, but spokeswoman Kathleen Richards was able at least to confirm that it will happen. Hopefully soon.

Landwell, the developers of the Tuscany Village and Weston Hills communities are responsible for completing Galleria from Pabco Road to the western fringes of those neighborhoods per its development agreement with the city. The holdup is clearance from the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection to proceed. The city already has approved the plans for the road, so once the environmental division gives the go-ahead, work will start.

Robert asks: I was wondering when they are going to widen Russell Road from Rainbow Boulevard to Buffalo Drive? There are parts of Russell where there is only one lane, and the markings are really in bad shape. Since the opening of Russell to Durango is now open, the traffic has increased on Russell.

The county had plans to improve Russell all the way from the Las Vegas Beltway to Rainbow, a project that was to be funded by the Regional Transportation Commission. According to the county, the road was in the design phase it lost the needed funding. Now, like many county road projects, the improvements depend on when the economy improves and money becomes available.

If you have a question, tip or tirade, call Adrienne Packer at (702) 387-2904, or send an e-mail to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com. Include your phone number.

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