Transportation improvements for tourists and locals pitched to Las Vegas tourist board

A mass transportation system to help move employees to their Strip jobs.

A freeway that would complete a loop around the city so that truckers could bypass it.

Plans to improve the traffic flow on existing streets and highways.

Those were among a series of long-range transportation proposals that would keep the flow of tourists into Las Vegas while maintaining local deliveries and commuter traffic unveiled Tuesday to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s board of directors.

Transportation expert Tom Skancke outlined projects that would improve the highway access into and around Southern Nevada as well as options to move the estimated 155,000 people per square-mile in the city’s busy resort corridor.

“This is meant to be conversational, not controversial,” said Skancke, who stressed that his comments are ideas to open discussion and not recommendations. “Some people aren’t going to like them, but I’m not in the business of having people like things. I’m in the business of creating reality and bringing options to you.”

Skancke, a longtime transportation consultant, is now CEO and president of the the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance, the regional development authority for Southern Nevada.

Skancke’s remarks could be a prelude to recommendations that will emerge from the LVCVA’s transportation steering committee, which has been meeting for nearly a year to consider a planned overhaul of the Las Vegas Convention Center. LVCVA President and CEO Rossi Ralenkotter said the committee is still in the process of gathering information before making any recommendations, but using the Convention Center as the hub of a multimodal transportation center has been discussed since the board first announced plans for the $2.5 billion Las Vegas Global Business District.

Skancke, who said his goal Tuesday was to get board members to visualize what Las Vegas would look like with upgraded transportation amenities, outlined several ideas:

— The completion of an east-side freeway loop to relieve Interstate 15 traffic. Such a proposal, which would effectively complete the 215 Beltway, has been discussed in connection with plans to build Interstate 11, a highway project between Phoenix and Las Vegas that eventually would continue farther north. Skancke contemplated a freeway linking I-15 to the proposed I-11 well south of Las Vegas so that northbound traffic from Los Angeles could bypass the city en route to Utah.

That, he said, would cut down the estimated 22,000 daily trips on the highway and leave I-15 in the city for locals and tourists.

— Upgrade mass transportation within the city, possibly with light rail, to improve the flow between downtown Las Vegas and McCarran International Airport, along Maryland Parkway or Paradise Road. Feeder links along those streets would move traffic east and west to and from the Strip on Desert Inn Road and Sierra Vista Road.

— Use the existing infrastructure of casino parking garages as park-and-ride stops for a mass transit system. Skancke identified several Station Casinos properties as potential hubs with Palace Station as a transit centerpiece. He said resorts would embrace the use of their parking because transit stops tend to be magnets for nearby economic development. That’s been the experience for new light-rail systems in Phoenix and Denver.

— Improve the Las Vegas Monorail system. While advocates of the system have pressed for extending the monorail to McCarran, the LVCVA committee is studying how it could connect the city’s three largest convention facilities, the Las Vegas Convention Center, the Sands Expo Center and the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. During the meeting, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, a member of the board, suggested that the city could be interested in assisting in extending the monorail line.

Skancke also gave an update on the $1.5 billion Project Neon, a 3.7-mile I-15 improvement at the Spaghetti Bowl. Scheduled for completion by 2019, Project Neon is “I-15’s last improvement program,” Skancke said, because there are no other places it can be widened.

State officials are acquiring land for the project, which will include building braided traffic lanes, a new high-occupancy-vehicle flyover and a redesigned Charleston Boulevard interchange. A request for proposals is expected to be issued next month.

Contact reporter Richard N. Velotta at or 702-477-3893. Follow him on Twitter @RickVelotta.

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