The new Garnet Interchange near North Las Vegas is more than an update to a 55-year-old bridge; it improves a vital gateway for freight traffic in Nevada.
The 16-month, $63 million project officially concluded Thursday with officials touting the changes, which include a modified diverging diamond interchange at Interstate 15 and U.S. Highway 93 near North Las Vegas and the widening of a 5-mile stretch of U.S. 93.
The interchange was built using a design-build method that fast-tracked the process, surpassing expectations of even Nevada Department of Transportation director Rudy Malfabon.
“They had to do some design work and start building as soon as that design work was approved by the department,” Malfabon said. “There were a lot of reviews, with the bridge here (I-15) and that half interchange, a lot of intricate design work. I was pleasantly surprised they finished before the end of the year.”
About 1,400 vehicles travel through the area per hour each day, including dump trucks that go to and from the nearby Republic Services landfill.
The design of the converging diamond interchange allows for smoother traffic flow through limited turns. That includes having traffic temporarily travel on the opposite side of the road for a double crossover.
“It’s a nice thing to have because you don’t have to stop,” Malfabon said.
Influence of the Old Spanish Trail, which ran parallel to I-15 for many miles, is seen in the interchange design. The interstate has four historical marker replica pilasters with decorative bridge railings showing cross-sections of mountains and sky with framed mule and donkey trains.
Another key component of the project was the widening of U.S. 93 from two to four divided lanes from the Garnet Interchange to just north of Apex Power Parkway. That will help serve the 150 vehicles an hour that travel through the area, with added capacity for expansion.
A 2-mile-long, two-lane frontage road running alongside U.S. 93 was also added in part to serve the 2,000-acre Apex Industrial park. It connects North Las Vegas Boulevard, Apex Great Basin Way and Grand Valley Parkway with a future extension to Apex Power Parkway.
Aside from Apex-related traffic, the widening was also aimed at making the area a better option in case of emergency on I-15. When the interstate was washed out by heavy rains in 2014, traffic, mainly freight, was diverted onto U.S. 93, which became heavily congested.
“North Las Vegas has been planning to diversify the economy in the area since my mayorship. … The new road (U.S. 93 widening) we just opened up is going to explode this area,” North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee said. “Apex is the answer to the future growth of Southern Nevada.”
Interstate 15-US Highway 93 Garnet Interchange
Price: $63.4 million
Construction Time: 16 months
Earthwork: 650,000 cubic yards
Concrete: 6,114 cubic yards
Asphalt Paving: 175,000 tons
Frontage Road: 2.2 miles
U.S. 93 Widening: 5 miles
Garnet Interchange Traffic: 1,400 vehicles per hour
U.S. Highway 93 Traffic: 150 vehicles per hour