August 15, 2020
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The Nevada Department of Transportation, along with the Federal Highway Administration and the City of Las Vegas, held a celebration of sorts on August 8 to mark the “substantial completion” of a three-year, $1 billion highway retooling effort called Project Neon – the largest and most expensive public works job ever undertaken during the state’s 155-year history.

[Above photo by the Nevada DOT.]

Project Neon enhanced Interstate 15 between Sahara Avenue and the “Spaghetti Bowl” interchange in downtown Las Vegas; a section that is currently the busiest stretch of highway in all of Nevada as it carries 300,000 vehicles daily, or one-tenth of the state’s population, and witnesses 25,000 lane changes per hour, the agency noted.

Graphic by Nevada DOT

According to the Nevada DOT, Project Neon entailed: building 63 lane miles of new concrete and asphalt paving; demolishing 24 bridges and building 29 new bridges; adding 10 miles of drainage improvements; and installing 22.5 miles of road barrier rail.

In addition to a newly expanded 20-mile-plus high occupancy vehicle (HOV) network, the project added north-south surface street connections to reduce congestion and to provide better access into downtown Las Vegas and Symphony Park as well as the Medical and Arts districts. Also, a new bridge carries Industrial Road over the Union Pacific railroad tracks between Wyoming Avenue and Charleston Boulevard.

Kristina Swallow

Nevada DOT Director Kristina Swallow pointed out in a statement that her agency adopted a design-build approach that helped complete Project NEON nearly a year earlier than originally anticipated, which generated nearly $80 million in “time savings” for local taxpayers.

“This project was a truly collaborative process between stakeholders for improved traffic safety, efficiency and reliability,” she said, adding that traffic volumes through the corridor revamped by Project Neon are expected to nearly double during the next 20 years

“This critical investment ensures that we meet the state’s growing infrastructure needs while creating thousands of good-paying local jobs that stimulate Nevada’s economy,” noted Governor Steve Sisolak (D) in a statement. “Project Neon greatly improves traffic congestion, motorist safety and commuter delays, thereby improving the quality of life for all Nevadans while improving visitor experiences to our state.”

editor@aashto.org

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