EDITORIAL: Boulder City bypass

The Las Vegas Valley has seen its share of important road projects over the years. The beltway has brought immeasurable relief to drivers, as has the widening of U.S. Highway 95 from the Spaghetti Bowl north to Centennial Hills. Interstate 15 looks nothing like the highway that ran west of the Strip 20 years ago, and Project Neon will transform it even more.

Those projects and many others have taken place in plain sight of many commuters — to their short-term detriment for long-term betterment.

Another project, about to get underway, won’t be nearly as visible. But make no mistake, it’s of tremendous importance to the future of Southern Nevada. As reported last week by the Boulder City Review’s Steven Slivka, work soon will start on the Boulder City bypass — a big step for the planned Interstate 11.

Boulder City residents will see construction work around the Eldorado Mountains by next month. Blasting will begin in May or June and take about a year to complete. The completed bypass will be a four-lane highway with interchanges at U.S. Highways 95 and 93, looping trucks and travelers heading to and from Arizona around Boulder City at high speeds, instead of through it at a slow pace. There will be 10 bridge structures, four wildlife undercrossings, one wildlife overcrossing, an off-highway vehicle crossing and a scenic parking area that overlooks Lake Mead.

Officials expect to complete the project by July 2018.

Then comes the critical next step: I-11, linking Las Vegas and Phoenix, the two largest adjacent metropolitan areas in the United States without a seamless freeway connection. More major improvements must be made along the existing highways that link the cities, and exact routes still must be designated. Ultimately, perhaps decades down the line, the interstate will stretch south to the Mexican border and north through Nevada toward Canada. It will become the major trade corridor through the Intermountain West.

I-11 is Nevada’s most important economic development project, and it’s as important as any other road-widening or construction project ever completed in Nevada. It will transform the region.

Kudos to Gov. Brian Sandoval, Nevada Department of Transportation officials and other local and state leaders for making the Boulder City bypass a priority. Now let’s get the rest of I-11 mapped out and moving ahead.

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