RTC pushes for light rail system in Maryland Parkway corridor

LAS VEGAS - Lawmakers say they plan to make another hard push to build a light rail system in Las Vegas.

The track would potentially start at McCarran International Airport and go up to Maryland Parkway to Carson before it heads west here it heads west and downtown until it gets near Valley Hospital.

McCarran International Airport would be the southern terminus of the proposed light rail line.  However, the light rail line has seen its challenges getting started, but this time transportation officials say they're ready to go.

A multi-year study of the Maryland Parkway corridor is wrapping up a growing UNLV, Sunrise Hospital, and The Boulevard Mall are all pushing the road to its limits.  Add to that congestion is the passenger traffic that continues to set new records at McCarran.

Maryland Parkway is one of the busiest roads in the valley, and it has 30,000 cars driving on it per day.  There are also 10,000 mass transit riders per day.  The RTC says those numbers will only grow.

"Maryland Parkway has been moving up along the line, and we're ready to take a critical look at how to make it better," said  David Swallow, Sr. Director of Technology and Engineering at Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada.

Swallow says light rail is emerging as the top improvement to the road.

"Those type of investments along the corridor are going to increase the demand for mobility, and we want to provide an option for people to get around," Swallow said.

The light rail cars could hold up to 150 people, and the RTC would wrap up construction sometime in 2023.

"We need to get this in place ASAP," said Dr. Robert Lang, economist,  director of Brookings Mountain West.

Lang has long supported the idea of light rail in Las Vegas.

"Especially down Maryland Parkway because you'd link up not just the airport through that route, but the university, the medical district, and restore some of the shopping areas that have been along that path," Lang said.

State Senator Mark Manendo, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee says he's hearing those stakeholders loud and clear.

"There's a big coalition of not only business owners, but residents that absolutely see the need for this, and the time is coming soon," said Sen. Manendo.

Manendo says he'll push legislation help to get the project going, this upcoming session.  If passed, the light rail cars would use the outside lanes similar to the bus lanes that have been put in on Flamingo and Sahara.

It would cost about $750 million, but the RTC hopes to cover at least half of that with federal funding.


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