With Project Neon wrapping up this summer after snarling traffic near downtown Las Vegas for more than two years, transportation officials already are looking toward the area’s next big undertaking.
The Downtown Access project, aimed at rebuilding a stretch of the U.S. Highway 95 viaduct, or elevated road, built in the 1960s, is in the early planning stages, according to the Nevada Department of Transportation.
Plans call for reconstruction of the 1.5-mile portion of U.S. 95 between Martin Luther King Boulevard to just east of Las Vegas Boulevard, including demolition and replacement of the bridge between Fourth Street and the Union Pacific railroad tracks, just west of Main Street, Transportation Department spokesman Tony Illia said.
“The elevated structure built in 1968 is in poor condition,” Illia said. “There are significant deck cracks, and the costs for repairs and rehabilitation are growing.”
The project also calls for the addition of lanes on U.S. 95, creation of a City Parkway high-occupancy-vehicle exit and construction of ramps to improve access to downtown.
The project would represent the second major road construction around the Spaghetti Bowl in recent years. Project Neon is the nearly $1 billion, 4-mile widening of Interstate 15 between the U.S. 95 interchange and Sahara Avenue.
Looking to break ground on the project in 2021, department officials said it was too early to determine a project cost or timeline.
Improving safety is also one of the project’s top priorities, according to the department, as the stretch of highway sees a rate of crashes that is above the state average.
The area averages 1.83 crashes per million vehicle miles traveled, compared with the statewide average of 1.55, Transportation Department data show.
In the project area, there were 272 crashes in 2015. That number climbed to 324 in 2016 and to 460 in 2017.