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EDITORIAL: NDOT building more capacity most drivers can’t use

Nevada transportation officials keep spending millions of dollars to build highway lanes and ramps that most local taxpayers will be unable to use. The latest fiasco is a planned half interchange at Interstate 15 and Harmon Avenue.

The improvement will allow southbound drivers on I-15 to exit at Harmon, while also giving motorists on Harmon the option of hopping on the northbound freeway. The work will take place as part of the ongoing $305 million overhaul of the Tropicana/I-15 interchange a half-mile to the south.

The Harmon ramps, set to be completed in the fall, will make life easier for locals heading to or around the Strip — but for a limited time only.

A spokesman for the Nevada Department of Transportation revealed this week that the plan is to eventually limit use of the Harmon interchange by dubbing it “HOV-only.” This is ridiculous but wholly in keeping with the agency’s penchant for green virtue signaling.

For more than a decade, NDOT has been adding freeway capacity in Southern Nevada and then decreeing that HOV restrictions apply, denying most drivers access to lanes and ramps that their taxes helped build. This is done under the guise of encouraging motorists to carpool even though there’s no evidence this strategy has changed behavior one iota. In fact, it’s far from unusual to see solo-driving scofflaws dominating the lightly used HOV lanes.

Even former Gov. Steve Sisolak admitted that the HOV experiment “did not work out” the way state transportation honchos “thought it would.”

Only last year did NDOT officials see fit to finally launch a study on who uses the restricted capacity even as they pushed to impose the policy around the clock rather than solely during morning and afternoon rush hour. So for more than a decade, the agency insisted on mandating HOV restrictions on local highways without having any data to support the theory that they reduce emissions or motivate drivers to double up.

Now, before such study has concluded and the results released, state transportation officials unilaterally determine that the Harmon half interchange will become the newest stretch of local pavement to be adorned with the dastardly HOV diamond.

Newly elected Lt. Gov. Stavros Anthony, formerly of the Las Vegas City Council, has been a vocal critic of HOV lanes and now sits on the Nevada Transportation Board. So does Gov. Joe Lombardo. The Harmon interchange proposal provides additional impetus for both elected officials to hold a much-needed HOV intervention for NDOT leaders.

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