With the impending addition of new carpool lanes on Interstate 15, Las Vegas city officials are ready to hit the brakes on the lanes before they go live on Monday.
At the request of Las Vegas City Councilman Stavros Anthony, high-occupancy vehicle lanes were discussed at Wednesday’s council meeting, as he wanted to see what legal avenues the city had to try to stop the lanes from being instituted in their jurisdiction.
The city’s legal team revealed there wasn’t much it could do to stop the lanes, aside from passing a measure calling for the state transportation board to reconsider the HOV lanes in their jurisdiction.
There is no guarantee that would sway the state, but Anthony said he’d consider calling for a vote on such an ordinance at a future council meeting.
The new HOV lane regulations going into effect Monday include 24-hour enforcement, moving away from the current peak hour policing. Motorists found to be in violation of the regulations face a suggested $250 fine.
Anthony had the city’s legal team look at whether the city could change any HOV violation ticket received in its jurisdiction to a reduced infraction.
“Why can’t you drop these down to a parking ticket and make it a $10 fine?” Anthony questioned.
City Attorney Brad Jerbic said HOV tickets will be reduced to parking tickets with the $250 fine being significantly reduced as well.
“When it come to traffic, speeding, which is life threatening, running a stop sign, which is life threatening … have fines that are either less or about the same as using an HOV lane, which is not life threatening,” Jerbic said. “So I discussed it with the head of our criminal division and we made a decision internally, that when it comes to (HOV) tickets, and we negotiate tickets all the time, we’ve already started negotiating HOV tickets to parking tickets and a very minimal fine.”
After Monday, the HOV lane system will stretch from Silverado Ranch Boulevard on I-15 to Elkhorn Road on U.S. Highway 95, creating 22 continuous miles of carpool lanes.
Anthony pushed for the reduction as he said the lanes are a waste of a travel lane. He believes motorists should have access to all lanes and not be forced to carpool to access HOV lanes.
“This is social engineering. This is trying to get people to get another person in their car to use the HOV lane and that’s not going to happen,” Anthony said. “People in this community, especially in the northwest, they’re like me. I get my car out of the garage, I drive away and I go where I want. I don’t want anybody else in the car with me because I don’t need them in the car with me, because it’s an inconvenience. It’s not going to change.”