Two Southern Nevada officials are calling for a wider Interstate 15 linking Southern California to Las Vegas and its tourism-dependent casinos.
Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom told the Las Vegas Sun he is skeptical of the impact a proposed high-speed train might have in connecting Las Vegas to Southern California.
Segerblom said he prefers widening I-15, the main route for a fifth of the Las Vegas Valley’s tourists every year. Traffic congestion going back to Southern California on Sundays can at least double a four-hour return drive, creating frustrations.
“There’s no better investment than to add one or two lanes more to I-15,” Segerblom said. “If we’re going to build the railroad, why not add the lanes at the same time?”
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman also wants I-15 to be widened. On July 28, she tweeted that 77 percent of Nevada’s freight is carried on trucks.
“This makes the widening of the I-15 critically important to keep freight moving seamlessly across the country,” she tweeted.
From Las Vegas to the California border, I-15 has six lanes, three on the southbound side toward Los Angeles and three going north to Las Vegas.
Goodman called for I-15 to be widened from four to six lanes from the Nevada border town of Primm to Barstow, Calif. This would help with the “efficient movement of goods and people,” she tweeted. The tweet included a map showing the proposed 114-mile project.
Segerblom said traffic frustrations are a cause for concern. Motorists stuck in “back-to-back traffic” will have a memory of Las Vegas that won’t be positive, he told the Las Vegas Sun.
It’s not healthy to have that kind of backed-up traffic,” he said.
Traffic issues are having an impact on tourism. The annual number of Las Vegas visits from Southern Californians is down from 2.4 times to 1.7, in part because of the traffic, tourism officials said.
Any effort to widen the highway in the Golden State would require funding from the California Department of Transportation, known as Caltrans, officials told the newspaper.
“The problem lies in California, where traffic is choked down to two lanes in each direction after crossing the state line, resulting in backups,” said Tony Illia, the Nevada Department of Transportation spokesman. “Although we continue to have an encouraging ongoing dialogue with Caltrans, their transportation spending priorities don’t necessarily align with those of Nevada.”
Train Construction Delayed
The Brightline West high-speed train would connect Las Vegas to Apple Valley, Calif., about 90 miles east of Los Angeles. That station in San Bernardino County ultimately would be linked to downtown Los Angeles.
The train would travel along I-15 at 200 mph, making it the fastest train in the US. Construction was set to begin this summer, but has been delayed until at least 2022. Construction is expected to last three years.
In recent weeks, Brightline purchased a 110-acre lot west of the Las Vegas Strip for a train station. Brightline Holdings CEO Michael Reininger said the land acquisition is evidence of the company’s commitment to the train project.
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