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First day of new HOV lanes in Las Vegas sees few problems

The first day of new high occupancy vehicle lanes and regulations surrounding them got off to an “electric” start.

The carpool lanes — which run on Interstate 15 from the Spaghetti Bowl to Silverado Ranch Boulevard and U.S. Highway 95 from the Spaghetti Bowl to Elkhorn Drive — opened Monday morning just as 150,000 people were exiting the Electric Daisy Carnival festival at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Despite the influx of motorists and the newness of the HOV lane system, there weren’t any real issues on Day 1, according to the Nevada Department of Transportation.

“The newly expanded HOV network has had a smooth launch thus far, despite being operational for less than 24 hours,” said Tony Illia, spokesman for NDOT. “It partly aided with a crush of morning commuter traffic combined with exiting festivalgoers from the Electric Daisy Carnival. However, motorists are only beginning to acclimate themselves to the new freeway lanes and their potential benefits. We anticipate that future commute patterns will adapt and change, accordingly.”

During the Monday morning rush hour 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, Brian Hoeft, Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada FAST director 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,” Hoeft said. “I think we’ll start to see those fill up the rest of the week and into next week.”

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 don’ts of carpool lanes.

Despite signage advertising the 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week enforcement, some vehicles with a single occupant and tractor-trailers, which surpass the two-axle limit, were witnessed traveling in the HOV lanes throughout the day.

“It will take time for motorists to acclimate themselves to the expanded HOV network, including its rules of usage,” Illia said. “Sadly, however, there will always be law breakers whether they are illegally traveling in a HOV lane or driving drunk or running a red light.”

The Nevada Highway Patrol could not be reached for comment regarding the policing of the lanes.

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

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