Bridge still closed

Aside from cooler weather and early voting, the end of October also was supposed to bring a little relief to northwest valley commuters. It was about two months ago to the day that the Clark County Commission reversed its earlier, inane decision to leave the completed Lake Mead Boulevard interchange at the Las Vegas Beltway closed through 2010. After being called out on a politically expedient promise to a handful of noisy, Sun City Summerlin NIMBYs, the full commission voted in August to open the $12.4 million interchange as soon as possible. Officials thought it would take about two months, tops.

Well, here we are, two months later, and there’s no sign of activity on the bridge, onramps and offramps. The barricaded interchange looks just as it did this summer, before the sensible vote to give area drivers access to the infrastructure they paid for. What in blazes is taking so long?

Clark County Public Works spokesman Bobby Shelton says the county had to sort out the details of bringing power to the interchange’s lights and traffic signals. It took nearly two months to reach a line extension agreement with NV Energy, which was approved by the County Commission just this past week.

NV Energy spokesman Adam Grant said this week that the power company doesn’t “have a timetable,” but will “get the work done as fast as possible.” Mr. Shelton said it’s possible the orange barrels and Jersey barriers won’t be removed until sometime around Thanksgiving.

It’s perfectly understandable that the interchange couldn’t be opened hours or even days after the commission ordered it opened to traffic. But more than three months? What bureaucratic nonsense. Try to imagine a private-sector board of directors and CEO mandating that an expensive, all-but-completed investment be brought online immediately, then being informed it couldn’t be done for another quarter. Think anyone would be held accountable for such unacceptable delays?

Ah, but this is government, which means waiting, and waiting, and waiting …

Clark County and NV Energy need to show the public a little urgency here. The Lake Mead Boulevard interchange, which never should have been closed off after construction in the first place, should be open by now. Every day it remains useless is an affront to the driving public and the valley’s billions of dollars worth of needed, unfunded transportation improvements.

Get this job done at once.

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