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Neighborhood’s residents cope with Project Neon detour traffic

Fed up over a parade of vehicles entering their neighborhood during last weekend’s Project Neon detour, residents of one central valley neighborhood took matters into their own hands.

The detour took drivers heading south on Interstate 15 to U.S. Highway 95 northbound and then to Rancho Drive where they turned south to re-enter I-15 at Sahara Avenue. As a result, heavy traffic was seen on the approximately 3-mile stretch of Rancho all weekend.

As some drivers grew impatient, they would turn into the Rancho De Manaco neighborhood located just off Rancho on El Cortez Avenue, to try to find their own detour, only to learn there was no other outlet to exit the neighborhood. They then would end up back at Rancho and back in the mass of vehicles, said Steve Miller, former Las Vegas city councilman, who lives in the area.

Some residents in the Rancho De Manaco neighborhood did some do-it-yourself roadwork and made a barrier out of a small mattress with “Dead End, Do Not Enter, Be nice!!!” written with black marker on it. The residents tied rope to orange cones on each end with American flags attached to the top of the cones at the corner of El Cortez and Westlund Drive.

“The residents down at the end near El Cortez and Rancho put up that little barricade, which was comical,” Miller said. “It was sitting there for days asking people not to turn in. It seemed to have worked.”

The barrier now sits in the driveway of a home that is being condemned by the city, and Miller said he’s heard plans that it again will be erected in the roadway ahead of this weekend’s planned closure of I-15 northbound between Sahara and D Street.

That closure, running from Friday night until Monday morning, will again send drivers down Rancho as part of a detour, but this time drivers will be heading northbound. Another detour route beginning at Industrial Road also will provide some relief to the neighborhoods on Rancho.

“At least they’ll have an option of two roadways and not just one like they did last weekend,” Miller said. “I predict this week will impact the neighborhoods on the east side of Rancho more than last weekend’s fiasco that interfered with us on the west side.’

Drivers using El Cortez Avenue to turn around and head south on Rancho after going to the nearby Chick-Fil-A in the Sahara Rancho Corporate Center has been an issue since the restaurant opened, but the problem was intensified with last weekend’s detour.

“We had no idea they were going to generate so much traffic,” Miller said. “The ingress/egress of Chick-Fil-A only allows for a turn to the north (on Sahara), which indicates that people that want to go south are frustrated and they go down and make U-turns.”

Las Vegas public works department installed rubber poles to deter people from making an immediate U-turn, which lead drivers to travel to El Cortez to turn around.

With the detour increasing the traffic in-and-out of the neighborhood, residents have been campaigning for a change, Miller said.

After meetings with city councilwoman Lois Tarkanian about the issue, relief is on the way, but not before this weekend’s planned closure of I-15 northbound.

A traffic signal is planned to be constructed at the entrance/exit of the corporate center where Chick-Fil-A is located, according to Jace Radke, Las Vegas spokesman.

With that signal coming well after this weekend’s detour, Miller said he and other neighborhood residents are planning ahead and preparing for the closure when getting in and out of the neighborhood may be tough.

“We’re doing all of our shopping prior to Friday’s closure,” he said. “We’re going to try and stay home through the weekend because it’s just dangerous and I don’t want any part of it.”

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

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