Project to improve traffic in Spaghetti Bowl moving forward

LAS VEGAS -- The most heavily trafficked interchanges in the Las Vegas valley is getting a makeover and Monday the state decided how to pay for it.

Project Neon aims to make the Spaghetti Bowl more manageable but with such a major undertaking comes a big price tag.

On Monday, the state Transportation Board decided a bond, known as the design-build method, not public-private financing will be used to pay for improvements.

The board opted to go with a more traditional financing plan through government-issued bonds because it believes it would be more affordable and offer greater flexibility for completing Project Neon.

Originally, the public-private financing option was expected to cost less and wrap up quicker, but those two factors turned out not to be the case.

"Originally, in that first version of the design build, it wasn't going to be completed until 2030. So now, we've able to compress that time, get it done by 2020, get it done cheaper and make sure that it is affordable for the people in Nevada," Gov. Brian Sandoval said.

The Nevada Department of Transportation says the projected cost of Project Neon under the public-private partnership has jumped from $602 million to $740 million over the last year, mostly due to higher interest rate. Private financing would require progress payments.

Project Neon is the largest capital improvement project in Nevada history.

The whole idea is to reduce congestion on a 3.7 mile stretch of the I-15 near the Spaghetti Bowl, where about 250,000 vehicles drive every day.

"It is absolutely essential to this community, to southern Nevada, to ensure that people who commute every day can get to work and home and wherever they need to go on a most efficient basis possible," Sandoval said.

Nevada leaders say going with government-issued bonds is not expected to delay the start of construction, which is set to start late next year or early 2016. The finish date is 2020.

Gov. Sandoval says overall the goal is to do it in the cheapest, most efficient way possible while building the highest quality.

"This is going to basically make a free-flow situation. The HOV system on U.S. 95, the carpool lanes, will connect to central lanes on I-15, so they'll be more direct access, you can actually get off into the resort quarter," NDOT director Rudy Malfabon said.


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