With the bright lights dimmed and the thumping bass gone, some 155,000 Electric Daisy Carnival attendees pounded the pavement and mixed in with the usual Monday morning commute.
Festivalgoers began to vacate the Las Vegas Motor Speedway starting at about 5 a.m., with the majority of them heading south on Interstate 15 toward the Spaghetti Bowl area, according to the Nevada Highway Patrol.
The worst of the early morning traffic was between Cheyenne and Sahara avenues, Brian Hoeft, Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada FAST director said.
“We’re seeing delays that are a little heavier (than usual),” Hoeft said. “Maybe an extra five-to-10-minutes of delay.
With it taking up to three hours to vacate the speedway parking lot, the increased traffic effect was expected to linger near the Spaghetti Bowl area for the majority of the morning, the Highway Patrol said. Troopers were out in full force looking for suspected impaired drivers leaving EDC.
As of 9 a.m. there was only one reported accident in the area, with a minor crash occurring at 5 a.m. on I-15 northbound near Charleston Boulevard, according to the RTC.
“We usually get a crash or two on a morning commute anyway,” Hoeft said.
The Highway Patrol recommended valley residents take surface streets if possible to avoid the freeway backup.
Some surface street congestion was seen, especially along westbound Sahara where EDC shuttle buses were returning to a staging area at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds.
In addition to the heavy EDC traffic, the new I-15 high occupancy vehicle lanes and regulations went online at 6 a.m. Monday, which will put them to the test right out of the gate.
“Many will be traveling along I-15 southbound toward Southern California, providing a great showcase opportunity to see the new HOV system in action,” said Tony Illia, spokesman for the Nevada Department of Transportation.
While local law enforcement enacted a 30-day grace period to cite HOV lane violators, officers will still pull over those they see breaking the rules and educate them about the do’s and dont’s of carpool lanes.
As of early Monday morning the I-15 HOV lanes appeared to be flowing better than the general purpose lanes, which could be attributed to the newness of the traffic pattern, Hoeft said.
“I think part of that is people getting used to them and maybe missing them because they don’t know they’re there yet,” he said. “I think will start to see those fill up the rest of the week and into next week.”
For those who travel on the freeway and experience car trouble, the Highway Patrol urged motorists to make every effort to safely get to the shoulder and call *NHP immediately from a cellphone.
Dispatchers will send a trooper or Freeway Service Patrol to the stranded motorist’s location for assistance.
If motorists are involved in a minor traffic crash without injuries, state law requires motorists to safely move their vehicle out of the travel lanes.
Heavy delays are also expected at the California-Nevada border around Primm, where traffic can back up for more than 20 miles as Californians head home after popular Las Vegas weekends.
“By late morning we’ll start to see the types of delays we usually see on a Sunday,” Hoeft said. “Maybe a 10-15-mile backup. Based on what we’ve seen before, the delays around Prim will begin around 9 or 10 a.m. and last until about 3 p.m.”
The congestion will likely be much worse next week when Memorial Day weekend travelers head back to Southern California, Hoeft said.
“Next Monday we’ll see probably see a 20-mile backup,” he said.
Travelers are advised to have plenty of water and snacks in their vehicle, and to prepare to be stuck in traffic for an extended time.