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County Commission OKs plan to extend Las Vegas Monorail with Raiders in mind

Clark County commissioners, spurred by the Nevada Legislature’s approval of a plan for a stadium that could house the National Football League’s Oakland Raiders, gave their unanimous approval Tuesday for the Las Vegas Monorail Co. to extend its route from MGM Grand to Mandalay Bay.

Judging by the discussion, some commissioners are eager to extend the monorail even farther.

“I’m just hoping that eventually we get that (monorail) into the airport. It just seems so logical,” Commissioner Mary Beth Scow said.

Las Vegas Monorail Co. President and CEO Curtis Myles told commissioners his privately held nonprofit is in discussions with McCarran International Airport about installing a switch on the planned 1.14-mile-long extension that could lead to the airport. The extension to Mandalay Bay will bring the already 3.9-mile-long monorail the closest it has ever been to the airport.

The county Zoning Commission is scheduled to discuss approving use permits for the project at a 9 a.m. Wednesday meeting in the commission chambers.

Once the monorail company gets the commission’s final OK, it must secure financing and begin construction on the newly approved extension within two years, according to the franchise agreement amendment passed by the commission.

Construction could start as soon as the second quarter of 2017, according to the company. Myles said the extension could be opened to the public within two years of starting construction.

He added that the extension would not limit the county from installing a light rail system in the future.

The extension project, which will include a new monorail station and has an estimated price tag of at least $100 million, will not be publicly funded. Funding is expected to come from bonds that would be paid back with revenue from paying riders.

The monorail company is using about $1.9 million of investment earnings from a $6 million doomsday account to pay for expansion-related expenses. Myles said the monorail company has spent about $800,000 of that so far.

Ridership is expected to get a boost when a new $1.9 billion stadium is built on one of two sites within walking distance of Mandalay Bay. According to a traffic assessment report commissioned by the Nevada Department of Transportation board and released in October, a proposed pedestrian bridge would link the new monorail station to a proposed site on Russell Road.

Myles told commissioners that his company is already preparing plans to expand the monorail’s route to the stadium itself once it is built.

Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak said he expected the monorail company will also extend its line to the Sands Expo and Convention Center. Doing so would put Las Vegas’s three major convention centers on one route of public transportation.

Connectivity between the destinations was a big issue at the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee meetings, Sisolak said. He was disappointed such plans were not ready to be presented on Tuesday.

“I’m a little surprised you’re in this early a stage,” Sisolak told Myles. “One of the things that sold me on this idea was connectivity, and now it’s not connected.”

Myles said his company is in talks with Las Vegas Sands Corp. about adding a Sands Expo station.

The monorail has operated east of the Strip since 2004. It already runs from SLS Las Vegas to the MGM Grand and has seven stations, including stops at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Westgate, Bally’s/Paris Las Vegas, Flamingo/Caesars Palace and Harrah’s/The Linq.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. Las Vegas Sands operates the Sands Expo and Convention Center. The Adelsons are partners in the Raiders stadium project.

Contact Michael Scott Davidson at sdavidson@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Follow @davidsonlvrj on Twitter.

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