If time is money, then the local taxicab industry is poised to take a small but significant step on Thursday.
The Nevada Taxicab Authority is expected to finally decide whether to test out parallel routes along Frank Sinatra Drive, Koval Lane and Interstate 15 that cabbies could use when Las Vegas Boulevard is congested.
It’s a practical move toward modernizing an industry that’s suffered steep declines in ridership and revenue amid the rise of ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft over the past two years.
Under a state law approved in 1977, taxicab drivers are required to take the shortest possible route to avoid accusations of taking a longer route than necessary in a practice known as long-hauling. Drivers can only use alternate routes if their passengers approve.
State lawmakers are considering whether to update that 40-year-old law by allowing the Taxicab Authority to designate parallel routes that drivers could use without being accused of cheating passengers.
Red brake lights line the Strip on a typical Friday or Saturday night. The rule under consideration on Thursday would allow a cabbie to avoid that congestion by taking an alternate route just a block or two away.
Cab companies belonging to the Livery Operators Association recently tested alternate routes between Strip and downtown hotels during the midday and evening commutes. The results show passengers could save time or money by avoiding the Strip. Other times, it comes out even.
For example, a midday drive from Mandalay Bay to the Downtown Grand by way of Frank Sinatra Drive would shave off nine minutes and save $2.37 compared with traveling on the Strip, the association reported. Taking Koval Lane from the MGM Grand to the Wynn cost the same price and took the same amount of time as the Strip.
Last month, the Taxicab Authority said it would fact-check the association’s findings. One part of the solution may be resolved this week, albeit temporarily.
Moving forward, Southern Nevada’s taxi industry should shift its focus to long-hauling complaints by locals and tourists catching a ride from McCarran International Airport.
Jackie from North Las Vegas wanted to know whether traffic signals will be installed at Decatur Boulevard and Grand Teton Drive, which is near three schools and typically backs up with some pretty nasty congestion.
“Children walk to school and this is a very dangerous intersection,” Jackie wrote in an email. “People do not respect the stop signs and we’re very concerned.”
North Las Vegas city officials are considering a signal for this intersection, but it might take some time and effort to get it done, city spokeswoman Delen Goldberg said. That’s because Decatur delineates the border between Las Vegas and North Las Vegas, meaning the two cities will have to coordinate on the project.
Brian from northwest Las Vegas wanted to know whether the left-turn lanes on Rancho Road could be extended to accommodate additional cars at Rainbow Boulevard and Lone Mountain Road.
No improvements are planned, but those areas will be studied for possible future upgrades, said Tony Illia, a spokesman for the Nevada Department of Transportation.
Shea from Henderson wanted to know whether traffic signals will be installed at Wigwam Parkway and Arroyo Grande Boulevard, which is currently equipped with four-way stop signs.
A consultant is evaluating and designing a wider area, and this intersection will be part of the larger Arroyo Grande pavement rehabilitation project, Henderson spokeswoman Kim Becker said. Construction is expected to start sometime in the fall.
With the recent construction of the Cactus Avenue overpass at Interstate 15 in the southern end of the valley, David wanted to know whether the street will be widened past Las Vegas Boulevard, headed east.
Clark County officials are still acquiring the right-of-way access needed to widen Cactus between Las Vegas Boulevard and Spencer Street, county spokesman Dan Kulin said.
Jon, also from the south valley, wanted to know whether the county plans to use flashing yellow arrows for the traffic signal at Gilespie Street and Silverado Ranch Boulevard.
“Most times, there is no oncoming traffic and a left turn could be safely executed without waiting for the light to completely cycle through,” Jon wrote in an email.
The county will study to see if a flashing yellow arrow would be appropriate there, Kulin said.
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ROAD WORK AHEAD
— The ramp connecting the southbound Airport Connector to the eastbound 215 Beltway will be closed from 9 p.m. Monday to 5 a.m. Tuesday. Crews are working on a new bridge for the Airport Connector.
— The Valley View Boulevard offramp from southbound U.S. Highway 95 closed from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. through Tuesday. Crews are working on Project Neon.
— Northbound U.S. Highway 95 will be reduced to one lane between the 215 Beltway and Craig Road from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. through Friday. Crews are working on a new flyover bridge.
— Southbound U.S. Highway 95 will be reduced to one lane between the 215 Beltway and Ann Road from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. through Friday. Crews are working on a new flyover bridge.
— U.S. Highway 93 will be reduced to a single lane in both directions between U.S. Highway 95 and Railroad Pass from 9 p.m. Friday to noon Sunday. Crews are building a temporary road to bypass construction of Interstate 11.
— The Warm Springs Road onramp to the westbound 215 Beltway will be closed until late May. Crews are working on a new bridge for the Airport Connector.
— The eastbound 215 Beltway will be reduced to one lane around Decatur Avenue from 9 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. Monday. Crews are doing bridge maintenance.
— The westbound 215 Beltway will be reduced to one lane around Decatur Avenue from 9 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. Crews are doing bridge maintenance.
— Nellis Boulevard will be restricted between Alto and Cheyenne avenues from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. through Friday. Crews are completing sewer work.
— Cecile Avenue will be restricted between Lamont Street and Nellis Boulevard until Friday. Crews are completing sewer work.
— The Rampart Boulevard onramp to westbound Summerlin Parkway will be closed until Saturday. Crews are widening the ramp.
— Lone Mountain Road is restricted between Cliff Shadows Parkway and the 215 Beltway until Saturday. Crews are working on an overpass.
— Southbound Durango Road will be restricted between Wigwam Avenue and Blue Diamond Road from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays through April 28. Crews are doing sewer work.
— Rainbow Boulevard will be restricted in each direction between Hacienda Avenue and Sunset Road from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. until mid-June. Crews are repaving the road and adding a traffic lane.
— The Warm Springs Road exit from the eastbound 215 Beltway will be closed through June. Crews are building a new bridge over the highway.
— The northbound U.S. Highway 95 exit ramp to Rancho Drive will be closed from Thursday to June 21 for work associated with Project Neon.
— Northbound U.S. Highway 95 will be reduced to one lane between Craig Road and the Beltway from 8:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. weekdays through June. Crews are working on the Centennial Bowl ramps.
— Southbound U.S. Highway 95 will be reduced to one lane between Durango Drive and Ann Road from 8:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. weekdays through June. Crews are working on the Centennial Bowl ramps.
— Martin Luther King Boulevard is closed between Oakey Boulevard and Interstate 15 through July. Crews are installing drainage boxes.
— Oakey Boulevard is closed between Main and Commerce streets through July. Crews are installing underground utilities and storm drain infrastructure.
— Summerlin Parkway’s westbound lanes will be restricted between Buffalo Drive and Rampart Boulevard through July. Crews are building a new auxiliary lane and making other improvements.
— The 13-mile scenic route at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area will be repaved in one-mile increments through summer.
— U.S. Highway 95 will be restricted between Rancho Road and just east of Interstate 15 through January 2018. Crews are building a new flyover ramp for high-occupancy vehicles as part of Project Neon.
— 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.
The average gasoline price Friday in the Las Vegas Valley was $2.66 per gallon. It was $2.68 in Nevada. The national average of $2.41 is up 2 cents from a week ago, up 13 cents from a month ago and up 31 cents from a year ago.