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4 Strip pedestrian bridges to be upgraded

The oldest of the pedestrian bridges that crisscross the Strip will be overhauled in a $26 million upgrade that will be paid for by the people who use them most — Las Vegas tourists.

The Nevada Transportation Department on Wednesday announced plans to upgrade the four pedestrian overpasses at Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana Avenue.

About 130,000 people a day use the bridges to access MGM Grand, New York-New York, Excalibur and Tropicana.

Whiting-Turner Contracting Co., working with Jacobs as engineer and Studio West as architect, will replace 16 escalators, four at each corner, with state-of-the-art equipment, while installing low-energy glass and air-conditioning units to the elevators. Aesthetic improvements call for placing new tempered glass wind screens and polished aluminum panel cladding along all four bridges.

“This project will greatly improve the safety and efficiency of pedestrian traffic flows at one of the most active pedestrian corners in the state,” Lynette Russell, the Transportation Department’s assistant chief of project management, said in a statement. “It will also create a sleek contemporary look consistent with the newer pedestrian bridge crossings along Las Vegas Boulevard, injecting some new glamour to the Strip.”

The bridges are 165 feet long, 16 feet wide and have 17-foot clearance heights. Existing bridges are 21 years old, but there have been frequent failures in the escalator systems.

Work is expected to begin in early 2016 with completion by mid-2017.

When the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority discussed the project earlier this year, board members were hopeful it could be completed before the opening of the MGM-AEG arena just west of New York-New York. That won’t happen, since the arena is scheduled to open in 2016.

During the discussion, blame for delaying the start of the project was placed on operators of the Tropicana who wanted to incorporate the bridge landings into the property’s retail complex.

Funding for the project is coming from the convention authority, which is mandated by the state to provide revenue to the Transportation Department for transportation projects beneficial to the tourism corridor.

The authority collects most of its revenue from room taxes and leases to trade show producers using the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Find him on Twitter: @RickVelotta.

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