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Las Vegas NASCAR weekend traffic should be getting smoother

Updated February 26, 2019 - 6:24 pm

Las Vegas Motor Speedway officials are hopeful those attending this weekend’s NASCAR events will have the green flag when commuting to and from the racetrack.

Road improvements along Interstate 15 and side streets near the speedway have race officials hopeful for the smoothest commute in the 21-year history of NASCAR weekend, which takes place Friday through Sunday.

“We anticipate absolutely no issues from a traffic standpoint,” said Chris Powell, Las Vegas Motor Speedway president. “There was a time when NASCAR came to town and there were all kinds of challenges. Not just near the speedway, but also other areas through the valley, certainly the Spaghetti Bowl being one of them.”

Major traffic impacts associated with Project Neon, the nearly $1 billion 4-mile-long widening of I-15, are all but gone. And the $34 million widening of a 5-mile stretch of I-15 from Craig Road to Speedway Boulevard in North Las Vegas is now complete, so fans should see decreased traffic congestion, according to the Nevada Department of Transportation.

“The (5-mile I-15 widening) project improves safety and mobility through the northern I-15 corridor, greatly reducing travel times and congestion,” said Tony Illia, NDOT spokesperson. “It also enhances traffic flows entering and exiting the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which is especially crucial during NASCAR events.”

Construction at Craig Road and Las Vegas Boulevard adjacent to Nellis Air Force Base has also finished and is expected to provide a wider and smoother path to and from the speedway via the Las Vegas Boulevard route, speedway officials said.

Alternative transportation options

If race fans don’t want to drive to the weekend races themselves, there are other means of travel available.

The Front-Stretch Shuttle picks up fans from five resorts: Tropicana, Planet Hollywood, Treasure Island, the Stratosphere and Main Street Station downtown.

The shuttle estimates it will take about 30 minutes to get to the track from the pickup locations, depending on traffic. A three-day shuttle pass costs $159 while a Sunday-only pass costs $119.

For race attendees who want to skip driving to the track altogether, Maverick Helicopters is again offering helicopter flights. The flights cost $499, take about 15 minutes each way and serve as a mini sightseeing tour in addition to a way to fly over road traffic, providing a bird’s-eye view of the city.

Big sports weekend to add to traffic

An influx of visitors to Las Vegas is expected this weekend, as several other major sporting events are scheduled.

T-Mobile Arena has a pair of events. UFC 235, headlined by Jon Jones versus Anthony Smith, takes place on Saturday and the Golden Knights take on the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday. The Rugby Sevens event also occurs at Sam Boyd Stadium Friday through Sunday and the UNLV men’s basketball team plays its final regular home game of the season against Boise State Saturday night at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Add that to the more than 100,000 fans expected to converge on the speedway over the weekend and motorists can expect heavier-than-normal traffic, which likely will cause some I-15 congestion despite the improvements, according to NDOT.

Powell said that while it will be a smoother commute to NASCAR weekend this year than in years past, planning ahead is still recommended.

“We always encourage fans to come (to the races) early. We want them to enjoy the entertainment options they have once they get on the property,” Powell said. “But no longer is it a case that you have to leave early to get here before the green flag is dropped.”

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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