Elevated expressways could solve congestion from airport to Strip

LAS VEGAS - A plan to build elevated expressways to and from McCarran International Airport was well-received by Clark County commissioners Tuesday.

However, with the history of plans for light rail trains and monorail extensions that have yet to be built, will it ever happen?

RTC Chairman Larry Brown says, this time, it's different.

Travel times between McCarran and the Strip are expected to surge by 2040. A new study predicts it will take nearly 50 percent longer due to congestion.

"Get off the road," jokes commuter Shirley Mitchell. "Make room for me." 

It comes as no surprise to Mitchell.

"I know there's a lot of people traveling here, and a lot of people going out, so yeah." 

But what comes as a surprise to many is some of the solutions -- that have long been looked at as pipe dreams for years in the valley -- are actually not that far from reality anymore.

"Now you're starting to see pieces of that plan implemented," Brown said.

RTC Chairman Brown says mobility improvements in the central valley from downtown to MccCarran to the Strip have been in the planning stages for many years.

But in the past few years, a few things have changed. The money is now there, thanks to fuel revenue indexing. And a bill that would give Clark County the authority to get big public works projects -- like light rail -- is expected to pass in the state legislature.

"This has been a process, and now we're at a point where the elements of the overall plan are starting to become real," Brown said.

The elevated expressways between the airport and the Strip and some form of light rail or other rapid transit along Maryland Parkway have broad support from the commission.

But Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani says extending the monorail is a different story.

"On the monorail, I have grave concerns about where their locations are, and the cost impact. I don't think the government should be the ones putting out for their long-term bonds," she said.

Studies will continue, but Brown says the commission could vote to move forward by the end of next year.

Final design and construction could start soon after.

The cost for bus rapid transit and the lowest-cost expressway routes would be just over $600 million. For light rail and the most expensive expressway routes, it would be $1.1 billion. However, the federal government could pick up the tab for a pretty sizeable chunk of that.
 


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