The first major upgrade to the Tropicana Avenue/Interstate 15 interchange since it was built in the 1960s is slated to get underway in 2021 to improve traffic flow and help the valley’s large event complexes.
The $200 million project’s scope includes I-15 between Russell and Flamingo roads and Tropicana between Las Vegas Boulevard and Valley View Road. The area serves as a gateway to the Strip, T-Mobile Arena and the stadium under construction for the Raiders.
The project calls for reconstruction of the interchange, giving it a diamond on- and offramp configuration and a flyover at Tropicana. Dean Martin Drive will be reconfigured to go underneath the Tropicana freeway ramps, eliminating a traffic light at the intersection near the In-n-Out restaurant.
Circular roads will be in place to maintain access to the northwest and southwest quadrants.
Though it’s been touted as a major component to game days at the Las Vegas Stadium, the interchange project won’t get underway until a year after the $1.8 billion, 65,000-seat Raiders stadium project is complete. And with a construction timeline of at least 26 months, it won’t be completed until 2024, according to the Nevada Department of Transportation.
Still, NDOT spokesman Tony Illia said no major traffic issues are expected for fans heading to the stadium before the interchange work is completed. Both Russell and Dean Martin will be available for stadium access during the project’s construction, he said.
The project’s goal is to improve the operation and capacity of the Tropicana interchange, improve access to Tropicana and the Strip, increase safety for both vehicles and pedestrians and minimize environmental impacts.
The sidewalks on Tropicana over I-15 will be widened from five feet to 10 feet, and a new pedestrian walkway will be constructed from the north side of Tropicana down to Frank Sinatra Drive, opening up a new access point to T-Mobile.
“We had a lot of coordination with Clark County, the Stadium Authority and the Raiders were there,” said NDOT project manager Jeff Lerud. “They shared some concern about pedestrians conflicting with HOV traffic right there at the Mandalay Bay (Hacienda Avenue), and the Raiders said they might close that off during events and that they weren’t going to use it the way we thought they would.”
Residents of the Panorama Towers and The Martin high-rise condominium complex, directly to the west of the planned HOV lane ramps, expressed concerns about the project at a public meeting last week.
“The existing highways are already convoluted as it is, so it’s not like they can just tear everything down and just start over. They have to work with what’s already there,” said Jinny Brooks, who lives at The Martin. “I don’t know if it makes any sense to add an entrance to the I-15 from Harmon. I don’t know if that will really help traffic flow, but I guess I can see it might help traffic flow away from Flamingo, but it would increase the traffic where I live.”
Moving the HOV ramps to Harmon also plays into the planned extension of Valley View Road, which now is interrupted by the Union Pacific Railroad line.
The $70 million project calls for Valley View to travel over the railroad line and reconnect south of the tracks. That will provide motorists with access to Harmon and the planned HOV ramp to I-15 southbound.
It will also link the area where The Palms and The Rio resorts are located with the stadium.
The under-construction project is slated to be completed in June 2020, according to Clark County.
“Yeah it worked out pretty well,” Lerud said. “Once Harmon goes through to Valley View, Harmon is going to be a nice facility for people to use.”