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Plan to build flyover to Las Vegas airport irks UNLV officials

Updated October 19, 2018 - 9:27 pm

Clark County’s plans to build an elevated roadway to ease traffic between McCarran International Airport and the Strip has drawn the ire of some higher education officials

During a Nevada System of Higher Education’s Board of Regents meeting Friday, county staff proposed constructing a flyover that would sit at the southwest border of the Paradise Campus of UNLV. The plan drew concern from Acting UNLV President Marta Meana and Regent Trevor Hayes because it could block views of UNLV’s Thomas &Mack Center, Cox Pavilion and Mendenhall Center.

“This is a slap to the face to UNLV,” Hayes said. “You’re covering up UNLV with an overpass.”

The flyover would allow northbound drivers leaving the airport to bypass the intersection’s traffic signal and exit either northbound onto Swenson or westbound onto Tropicana. The westbound path would take traffic under Paradise Road, allowing drivers to skip a second stoplight.

Some 51,000 vehicles would use the flyover each day, County Public Works Director Denis Cederburg said. That’s about half the traffic that the intersection sees.

“I think it does a good job of addressing the congestion at the Tropicana-Swenson intersection, and it saves time for the travelers,” Cederburg said before the meeting.

The project would cost about $77 million, Cederburg said. That’s considerably less than the $200 million for the previous proposal to build a 3-mile expressway over existing roads to and from the airport.

Building underground roadways at the intersection without obscuring the view of UNLV would cost about $211 million, Cederburg said. In addition to excavating the area, existing utilities would need to be moved.

Cederburg said its imperative that something be done to address the busy intersection.

“If we do not build this project by 2040, the delay time at this intersection will more than double,” he said.

Despite Ceberburg’s urgency, the county appears to be pumping the brakes on the project.

Meana on Friday presented a letter from County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak stating the county will not move forward with the project without more input from UNLV.

The college has hired CSL Consulting, JABarrett Company and Kimley-Horn and Associates to study the elevated roadway’s potential impact on its campus. Results are expected by the end of this month.

“We want to see and agree with improving traffic,” said David Frommer, UNLV’s executive director for planning and construction. “We’d like to maintain the visibility of the campus, the event center, the marquees and the billboards that we have. And we want to make sure the campus access is not negatively impacted or diminished.”

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

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