We are just about to complete the largest public works project in the history of the state of Nevada. That would be Project Neon, or in other words the improvements made to I-15 and U.S. 95 in downtown Las Vegas. The project has reconfigured the exits and entrance approaches from Sahara Avenue on the south to U.S. 95 on the north and from MLK Blvd on the west to Industrial Road on the east. In particular, the Charleston Blvd exits, and entrances have been completely reconfigured.
The cost of the project cost is nearly $900 million, and it is reported that the project is on schedule and within budget. That doesn’t count the increased hours of travel which have occurred during the 3 years of construction, nor the accidents that have taken place due to confusion during the lane and exit closures. All told, this cost has been for the reconfiguration of 3.7 miles of I-15. So, what have we gotten for the quarter million dollars per mile roadway project? Quite a lot actually. We’ll attempt in the following paragraphs to itemized some of the benefits which will come due to this substantial investment.
What will Project Neon do for us?
300,000 vehicles pass through the Project Neon build area daily. Designers expect this to double by 2035. Every hour, 25,000 vehicles make lane changes, resulting in 3 accidents per day. Design goals of the project are to improve safety in the corridor and decrease lane changes. Ramp braiding is used to merge and weave traffic between the frontage roads that carry exiting and entering traffic. Traffic delays are expected to be reduced by 28 percent through the corridor, with the benefit of reducing emissions and improving air quality, much less arriving at your destination in less time.
The project has required 29 new bridges, a new flyover for the HOV lanes between U.S. 95 and I-15, the conversion from the two express lanes on I-15 to on HOV lane and one general purpose lane. The HOV lanes will be in effect 24/7 changing the current hourly effective times as posted. The fines for intruding on the HOV lanes is $250 and it is being enforced currently.
Additionally, new soundwalls have been added, new landscaping and artwork, digital signs to designate open lanes, and to support the Active Traffic Management system (ATM), which will give driver’s information on lane closures and travel times. 42 new digital signs are in place for the ATM system. The roadbed itself will be rubberized asphalt laid on top of a concrete roadbed. The surface material is significantly quieter and smoother.
Surface street improvements have been in progress since the beginning of the project in order to make ingress and egress to the freeway smoother and more efficient. Exits are likely to be in different places, for example, the Sahara exit from I-15 South will be consolidated with the Charleston exit and will be nearer to U.S. 95. Until people get used to the new traffic flow, keep your eyes open for exit signs to make sure you don’t pass your exit.
Perhaps the biggest advantage in the increase of speed at which traffic will move through the corridor after completion. It is estimated that traffic delays will decrease by 28 percent, and that traffic will move at an average speed of 60 mph due to the improvements which compares to projected 28 mph without the improvements.
The project is scheduled for completion within the next 60-70 days, so much remains to be done to accomplish the punch list of open items in the project. This will get Las Vegas ready for the new Tropicana I-15 interchange which will begin almost as soon as Project Neon completes.
Ticket Busters will fight to bust your tickets
We look forward to the completion of Project Neon. Our hope is that it will achieve its goals of increased safety and faster commutes. You’re still likely to meet a local law enforcement professional, though, if you speed in and around Las Vegas. When that happens, give our office a call so we can bust your ticket. Our friendly staff will explain the details. Call us today at (702) 666-6666.