Project Neon is officially underway

LAS VEGAS - The largest transportation project in Nevada's history is now officially underway.

Local leaders celebrated the groundbreaking of Project Neon. The $1.5 billion upgrade of the I-15 through the heart of Las Vegas.

While major construction work on the freeway itself won't begin in earnest until 2018, the headaches on the surface streets around the I-15 will begin soon.

In true Las Vegas fashion, showgirls and celebrities helped signal the start of construction for the long-anticipated Project Neon.

Governor Brian Sandoval says the project eclipses the scope of building the Hoover Dam.

"In today's dollars, the Hoover Dam would be $850 million, this is bigger than that," he said.

I-15 from Sahara Avenue to the Spaghetti Bowl is the busiest stretch of road in the state. Around 300,000 cars travel on the nearly four-mile segment of highway every day.

That number is expected to double in the next two decades.

Officials began planning to expand the freeway's capacity two decades ago.

"But we never fathomed in those years the creation of the mess of the Spaghetti Bowl that we would have to endure coming in," Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman said. 

Artist renderings of the improvements show new carpool lanes, interchanges and realignments which are expected to reduce congestion by 28 percent. Officials say, the roads will also be safer.

Right now, the project area averages three crashes per day.

"This is something we must do, this Spaghetti Bowl was beyond capacity 10 years ago," Governor Sandoval said.

As always, things will get worse before they get better.

"Be patient, it's going to take a lot of construction work zones to get there," said Rudy Malfabon, NDOT director.

Work and closures on surface streets will begin in July.

The first freeway lane closures on U.S. 95 will be in the first part of 2017. Work and closures on I-15 will start in March of 2018.

It's all scheduled to wrap up in the summer of 2019, almost a year earlier than originally anticipated.

Funding for the project is coming from almost everywhere. The federal government is picking up the bulk of the tab, parts of the project are being paid for by fuel revenue indexing funds and NDOT is picking up the rest of the tab.

 


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