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Roads torn up again? Reasons for the Vegas madness

How many times have we seen this scenario?

There’s work being done on a street or road you use. It gets fixed (Eureka!) and then months later, you see new signs warning you that it’s going to become a construction zone — again.

Warrior reader Russ saw this unfold on the 215 Beltway between Windmill Lane and Warm Springs Road.

“As I was speeding down westbound I-215 between Windmill and Warm Springs, I saw a sign that seemed to indicate that there would be road construction starting. It was one of those with the gas pump on it. My question is this: Didn’t they just finish the I-215 rebuild in the last two years? What else needs to be done? Do you have any updates on what is going to be going on, as well as a time frame for this new headache?”

You’re right, Russ. Clark County just finished widening and repaving I-215 there, and it’s really nice.

But what’s ahead will make it even nicer.

In four months, construction will begin on a direct-connection flyover ramp and bridge structure from the southbound airport connector to eastbound I-215. The highway will be widened and realigned to Warm Springs.

Clark County spokesman Dan Kulin said the project is expected to take about two years to complete.

The other part of your question — Why didn’t they just do this two years ago? — is more about having available money to do all the work necessary at once.

The widening was needed, but money wasn’t immediately available for the flyover. In the past two years, new funding became available through fuel revenue indexing, the higher gasoline tax county residents pay.

Projects partly paid for by that funding are designated with signs with the gasoline pump logo.

NEW TRAFFIC LIGHT?

Warrior reader Eric has a simple question:

“When will they be installing a traffic light at Bermuda Road and Cactus Avenue?”

And “they” — in this case, Clark County’s Kulin — have a very simple answer:

“We have a project to widen and improve Cactus Avenue from Las Vegas Boulevard to Spencer Street. A traffic study at Cactus Avenue and Bermuda Road will be completed with the design of this project and included in construction if found to be warranted.”

In other words, Eric, when county crews work on widening Cactus, they’ll determine whether there’s enough traffic at that intersection to warrant the expense of installing a signal. So nothing definitive, but at least it’ll be looked at in the next few months.

EXPRESS LANE CANDLESTICKS

Warrior reader Russ wonders why Interstate 15’s candlesticks were extinguished:

“Whatever happened to the tall skinny white dividers (I believe they were called ‘candlesticks’) that at one time separated the express lanes from the regular traffic along the resort corridor? I remember they were taken out at one time when the project was being finished and resurfaced, but I thought they were supposed to come back after that. Without those, despite the solid white lines (which everyone ignores), the two express lanes basically feel like regular lanes with people darting in and out of them.”

The answer, from Nevada Transportation Department spokesman Tony Illia:

“As a public agency, we’re responsible for making the best and most effective use of our existing infrastructure,” he said. “As such, we introduced a managed approach along I-15 with candlestick dividers demarcating express lanes that allow drivers to only enter and exit at designated areas, thereby reducing congestion, improving mobility and enhancing safety by reducing merge and weave traffic.

“But, the candlesticks quickly became dirty and were difficult to clean resulting in reduced nighttime visibility. In addition, vehicles repeatedly struck the dividers creating hazardous debris. Candlestick replacement was costly, running about $15,000 in materials alone, and required shutting down I-15 for repairs.

“NDOT consequently removed the dividers in 2012, while still maintaining I-15 express lanes from Sahara Avenue to Silverado Ranch Boulevard. However, those lanes will soon be converted into high-occupancy-vehicle or carpool lanes with the construction of Project Neon, which is expected to break ground in March. There will be one general travel lane and an HOV lane with direct connections from I-15 to U.S. Highway 95.”

BEST BRIDGES

Nevada has the best bridges in the country.

Hooray! A list we’re on the top of that we can be happy about.

The American Road and Transportation Association recently released a 2014 analysis of the nation’s 61,000 bridges. The report explains that there’s a $115 billion backlog of bridge preservation investment needed to repair and modernize structurally deficient bridges.

Only 1.8 percent of Nevada’s 1,900 public bridges are deficient. By the way, the term “deficient” is used to describe bridges needing rehabilitation or potential replacement. Structurally deficient bridges aren’t necessarily unsafe or dangerous. They’re just at the top of the priority list for corrective measures and might be posted or closed because of vehicle weight restrictions.

“Three hundred thirty-nine of Nevada’s state-owned bridges are more than 50 years of age, an age when rehabilitation is often necessary to keep the structure to current standards,” the Nevada Transportation Department’s Illia said.

“Nevada’s current bridge funding backlog of approximately $119 million is projected to reach $338 million in fiscal year 2027 at current funding levels,” Illia said. “If the funding is gradually increased over the next 10 years, the forecast state bridge preservation cost is expected to level off at approximately $48 million per year.”

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

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