Highway priority

A month after pushing lawmakers off the dime on state transportation funding, Gov. Jim Gibbons has announced that improvements to Interstate 15 — Southern Nevada’s lifeblood — will be accelerated.

Hip hip, hooray.

The North Corridor project will widen and improve four miles of the federal highway north of the Spaghetti Bowl from downtown Las Vegas to Craig Road. But instead of having to wait for engineers to design the project and contractors to bid on jobs before starting construction, the governor and his transportation chief announced Thursday that the state will begin work first — by next spring.

“The design-build system allows actual construction to start while the designing is still taking place,” said Susan Martinovich, head of the Nevada Department of Transportation.

Thus the $242 million project could be finished in 2010, about two years sooner than anticipated.

This should indeed be among the state’s top road construction priorities, and it’s heartening to see Gov. Gibbons take these steps.

Coupled with the ongoing and finished improvements on I-15 south of U.S. Highway 95 to the California line, the expedited project will make the valley’s most important stretch of freeway almost drivable.

Well, at least we can hope.

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