Day 1 of Project Neon's 'Big Squeeze' had pretty smooth flow

LAS VEGAS - Tuesday was traffic headache day number one of about 300 for commuters who regularly take U.S. 95 to the I-15 Interchange.

Monday night, the first day of Project Neon's "Big Squeeze" phase crews set out cones to reduce the lanes on U.S. 95.  But during the set-up, traffic was still smooth sailing.

The drive Tuesday morning kicked off fairly similar with some congestion, but early commuters said it wasn't anything crazy.

8 News Now crews drove the stretch before and during the project. As crews placed cones out in the evening, 8 News NOW reporters and photographers said they experienced very little slowdown.

During the morning drive, Reporter Nia Wong said she only experienced about five extra minutes of delay time.

During the lunch time drive, Reporter Katie Boer said there was a backup before the Spaghetti Bowl heading northbound.  However, she too said it only added an extra five minutes to her time.

On Tuesday evening, during rush hour, around 5 p.m. Boer said her and her photographer got through the entire stretch in 3-5 minutes.

Both Nevada Department of Transportation and Project Neon officials said the first day was smoother than they expected.

"So far so good. The first few days of any major freeway changes are definitely the hardest," said Tony Illia, NDOT Public Information Officer.

However, traffic snarls could be worse Wednesday morning because cones and lane closures have been completed southbound reducing traffic to just two lanes. The same restrictions have not yet been finished along northbound 95.

Project Neon crews will begin setting out additional cones and lane closures going northbound beginning at 9 p.m. Tuesday night. Officials expect that will likely contribute to more of a backup.

Boer drove with Project Neon's Project Manager Dale Keller along the "Big Squeeze" corridor, and she asked him, "What would happen if a collision were to occur now that lanes have ben reduced to two?"

"If there is an incident and we had to move over a barrier rail or help out with the flow of traffic -- to the best of our ability -- we will do so," Keller said. "There's a point of contact both on the contractor side and NHP as well as this freeway service patrol to help out with that flow of traffic."

Project Neon also has a new flatbed truck which will help clear potential incidents, but even when traffic is slowing, officials warn that drivers should still take it easy.

"We should take it slow through the work zone and follow the speed limits," according to Keller.  "Also, when we do have an incident on the freeway, we have a freeway service patrol, FSP, out there with three different vans that will travel on U.S. 95."

According to the Nevada Department of Transportation, with all construction projects, accident prevention is at the forefront.

"We have planned for that along the corridor. We have little turnout pockets for cars if they break down," Illia said.  "We are able to monitor that through closed loop cameras via FAST cams and dispatch out a tow truck immediately if that's the case to clear the traffic."

Project Neon officials say the first weekend of the project will be a marathon weekend with crews working around the clock. An even larger phase will occur on the I-15 at the beginning of March 2018, but the "Big Squeeze" portion specifically should take about 300 days.

To stay up to date on alternate routes, be sure to watch Traffic Anchor Demetria Obilor every morning on Good Day starting at 4 a.m.

Also, NDOT recommends the use of WAZE. The app provides alternative routes based on current traffic and road closures.

In the meantime, alternate routes include Valley View Boulevard, Decatur Boulevard, Rancho Drive, Las Vegas Boulevard and Eastern Blvd.


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