Las Vegas drivers getting through Day 1 of ‘Big Squeeze’ — TIME LAPSE

Updated March 21, 2017 - 2:59 pm

Despite the anticipated traffic jams and a handful of crashes, motorists on Tuesday appeared to embrace “The Big Squeeze” during the first morning commute involving lane closures on U.S. Highway 95, local transportation officials said.

But it’s just the first day of a lengthy project affecting roughly 219,000 vehicles daily.

Over the next 10 months, thousands of drivers are losing a mile-long stretch of traffic lane in each direction of the highway between Rancho Drive to just east of Interstate 15 near downtown Las Vegas.

“Consequently, the first few days of new lane changes are always the toughest,” said Tony Illia, a spokesman for the Nevada Department of Transportation.

“Motorists must learn a new configuration, gauging its effectiveness, and possibly alter commute routes,” Illia said. “However, we feel that motorists responded positively to the lanes changes.” The Big Squeeze, Las Vegas (Gabriel Utasi/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Northbound traffic on U.S. 95 was jammed well past Eastern Avenue during peak travel times, while southbound lanes were backed up to Valley View Boulevard.

Near the construction zone, two crashes reported along southbound U.S. 95 at Valley View brought some delays, causing backups to Decatur Boulevard, said Angela Castro, a spokeswoman for the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada. Traffic delays started about 30 minutes earlier than usual during the morning commute on the northbound U.S. 95 near Charleston Boulevard and lasted roughly 30 minutes later than normal.

“Although traffic congestion began earlier and lasted longer than normal, backups were not as bad as anticipated,” Illia said.

Commuters attempted to take alternate routes during the Tuesday morning commute, creating unusually heavy traffic as far south as the 215 Beltway near Henderson and McCarran International Airport. In the Green Valley area, vehicles were backed up between the Airport Connector and Stephanie Street, presumably because “drivers may have been avoiding the Big Squeeze by using the Southern Beltway,” Castro said.


 


Traditional alternate routes closer to downtown Las Vegas led to major back-ups on Rancho Drive, Decatur Boulevard, Valley View, Washington Avenue, Bonanza Road and Martin Luther King Boulevard. Rancho, Decatur and Valley View were on the list of alternate street routes suggested by NDOT, along with Las Vegas Boulevard and Eastern Avenue.

“Overall, it looks like a smooth morning,” Castro said.

To help keep traffic moving on U.S. 95, NDOT is asking drivers to practice “zipper merging” rather than merging early. The practice encourages motorists to use both lanes up to the point where they converge, then alternate turns.

The message didn’t quite appear to resonate with motorists on Tuesday. Some significant problems were reported with vehicles slamming on their brakes and forcing their way into the left lanes at the Spaghetti Bowl.

NDOT officials said initial feedback on zipper merging was positive so far, but acknowledged that it may take some time for drivers to adjust.

The “Big Squeeze” tightened its grip on Las Vegas motorists Monday night, when crews placed orange cones and barriers to gradually close traffic lanes on U.S. 95.

For the next 10 months, crews will split the northbound and southbound lanes of U.S. 95 by 70 feet, creating enough room to build a 81-foot-tall flyover ramp for high-occupancy vehicles.

Lane closures will shift during various phases of construction. When completed, the carpool ramps will connect southbound U.S. 95 to southbound I-15 and northbound I-15 to northbound U.S. 95.

The work falls under the larger umbrella of Project Neon, a $1 billion effort to redesign and add traffic lanes along I-15 from the U.S. 95 interchange to Sahara Avenue by fall 2019. A third, yet-to-be-named closure is anticipated in 2018.

The RTC and NDOT will monitor 118 signals on 14 major roadways surrounding the Spaghetti Bowl interchange as drivers seek alternate routes, Castro said.

Fifty-four cameras mounted on traffic signals will be focused on those streets, with live footage beamed to the RTC’s traffic management center. From there, workers will make real-time adjustments to signals, depending on the ebb and flow of traffic.

Through January, motorists can expect to see periodic closures along nearby freeway ramps and surface streets, starting with the northbound U.S. 95 exit ramp to Rancho Drive from Thursday to June 21.

Additionally, the on-ramp and off-ramp connecting Martin Luther King Boulevard and northbound U.S. 95 will close from 10 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday. During that same time, Martin Luther King Boulevard will be closed in both directions between Bonanza Road and U.S. 95 for bridge demolition.

Review-Journal staff writer Mark Davis contributed to this story. Contact Art Marroquin at amarroquin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0336. Follow @AMarroquin_LV on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Local
Downtown Summerlin hosts its annual Festival of Arts
People crowd to Downtown Summerlin for the 23rd annual Summerlin Festival of Arts in Las Vegas, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County educators debate alternative grading systems
Spring Valley High School principal Tam Larnerd, Spring Valley High School IB coordinator Tony Gebbia and retired high school teacher Joyce O'Day discuss alternative grading systems. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Grandparents on the fire that killed three family members
Charles and Doris Smith talk about the night an apartment fire took the lives of three of their family members. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
New York artist Bobby Jacobs donated a sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden
Bobby Jacobs, an artist from upstate New York, has spent much of the past year creating a sculpture of two separate angel wings. He donated the sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Weather will cool slightly through the end of the week
The weather will cool slightly through the end of the week., but highs are still expected to be slightly above normal for this year. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mayor announces new public-private partnership
Mayor Carolyn Goodman announced the creation of the Mayor’s Fund for Las Vegas LIFE, a public-private partnership that will allocate money to the city’s neediest.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Fall fairytale gets cozy at Bellagio Conservatory
Bellagio Conservatory introduces its fall-themed garden titled "Falling Asleep." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
What the house that Ted Binion died in looks like today
Casino heir Ted Binion died in this Las Vegas home in 1998. Current home owner Jane Popple spent over $600,000 to restore and modernize the home. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Rescue Mission employees terminated
Don James, a former employee for the Las Vegas Rescue Mission, talks about the day his team was terminated. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Cupcakes at Freed's Bakery
Freed's Bakery will have Raiders-themed cupcakes available in store and for order during football season. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s fans say goodbye to Cashman Field
Las Vegas 51s fans said goodbye to Cashman Field in Las Vegas, Monday September, 3, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s owner Don Logan's last weekend at Cashman Field
Don Logan, owner of the Las Vegas 51s, gives a tour of Cashman Field before the team's final weekend using the field. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Metro Asst. Sheriff Brett Zimmerman on Aug. 8 officer-involved shooting
Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman met with media Monday to discuss the details of the 14th officer-involved shooting of the year. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program where community and business leaders joined to welcome students back with an inspirational welcome. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Star Trek fans on show’s enduring popularity
Star Trek fans at the Star Trek Convention 2018 talk about why they think the show has stayed popular across the years Thursday, August 2, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Nonprofit provides clothing for homeless
Sydney Grover of Can You Spare A Story?, talks about how she founded the non-profit organization. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Family remembers deceased mother
Family members of Adriann Gallegos remember her. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like