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Road widening between Hoover Dam, Boulder City on the way

Traffic along U.S. Highway 93 might worsen over the next couple of months, but in the end transportation officials said Thursday they think that Boulder City residents and commuters between Nevada and Arizona will be pleased with the project.

The end is expected to be Nov. 19, the day before Thanksgiving traffic starts flowing in and out of the Las Vegas Valley. The beginning will be Aug. 15, when crews start their widening project along U.S. 93 between Boulder City and Hoover Dam.

In the meantime, as construction cones litter the already congested stretch, Tony Lorenzi, the project manager for the Nevada Department of Transportation, said he hopes motorists will be patient.

"If there is congestion without the cones, imagine the congestion with construction," he said.

The hope is drivers will check on traffic before heading toward the bridge and compounding the backups.

The Regional Transportation Commission will assist commuters in doing just that. Digital message signs will be erected at the point where U.S. Highway 95 toward Laughlin peels off from U.S. 93. The signs will offer a travel time to the bypass bridge and allow motorists to decide whether to divert through Laughlin.

Motorists also will be able to check cameras online to take a look at the traffic. The images can be seen on the Freeway Arterial System of Transportation (FAST) link on rtcsnv.com.

To alleviate traffic jams caused by a bottleneck on the Nevada side of the Hoover Dam bypass bridge, the transportation division is fast-tracking the $15.8 million widening project.

Traffic problems quickly became apparent shortly after the four-lane bypass bridge opened in October.

Unlike Arizona, Nevada’s transportation division failed to widen a two-mile-long northbound portion and a five-mile southbound segment of U.S. 93.

Vehicles coming off the wider bridge sometimes hit a wall of traffic where the highway squeezes down to one lane in each direction. The bottleneck led to backups that stretch as far west as College Drive in Henderson.

Several solutions were pitched, including banning tractor-trailers from the bridge and rerouting them through Laughlin and Bullhead City, Ariz.

Residents applauded the proposal, but it did not sit well with the Nevada Motor Transit Association, which represents truckers’ interests.

Also protesting the idea was Jack Hakim, mayor of Bullhead City, who has dealt with the trucks for a decade after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks prompted federal officials to ban tractor-trailers from Hoover Dam.

Hakim said the steep grade leading into Bullhead City from the south posed a great danger to residents because trucks have lost their brakes and barreled into town.

All sides compromised by agreeing restricted hours for trucks on U.S. 93 during the three-month construction period.

All oversized vehicles will be banned from the work zone between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Commercial vehicles weighing more than 26,000 pounds and traveling south will not be permitted to use the highway between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

The trucks will be permitted to travel northbound without restrictions to alleviate Hakim’s concerns.

Contact reporter Adrienne Packer at apacker@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2904.

 

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