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April 17, 2014

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TRANSPORTATION:

Stimulus money to bring upgrades to Boulder Highway

Without funds to start major projects, officials will spend money on improvements

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Federal stimulus money will be used to bring upgrades to the Boulder Highway corridor, including improvements to traffic signal timing and funds for the Boulder Highway Ace project.

CARSON CITY -- The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada intends to use federal stimulus money to fill potholes and improve traffic flow on Boulder Highway.

Those were two of the main priorities outlined Tuesday by commission general manager Jacob Snow at a meeting of the Senate Transportation, Energy and Infrastructure Committee.

Snow estimates Clark County should receive $30 to $40 million for road construction, which isn't enough for a major new project. So, the money will be used for resurfacing and reconstructing roadways.

“We have $1 billion 'shovel-ready' projects ready to go,” he said. And the stimulus "won’t come close" to solving the transportation needs in Nevada.

The rapid transit money in the stimulus bill will go to the Boulder Highway Ace project, which will link Henderson at Horizon Drive with downtown Las Vegas at Casino Center Boulevard through 21 platforms on each side of the 17-mile corridor.

"It’s like a light rail system only it’s on rubber tires," Snow said.

There are 50 of these vehicles on order and they should be ready to roll out in November.

Snow said motorists should also see changes to traffic signal timing.

“We are putting the communication infrastructure in for all of that so if you are in a car you will have better traffic flow as you progress down or up Boulder Highway because of the traffic signal improvement," he said.

The House Bill has an estimated $30 million for rapid transit for Clark County and the Senate Bill has an estimated $25 million. The federal bill requires the money from the stimulus package be obligated within 90 days.

Another project that might get money from the stimulus funds is a new bus terminal in downtown Las Vegas, Snow said.

Snow said revenue from the sales tax for roads is down 5.3 percent for the year and gasoline tax revenue is off 6 percent.

Committee members also discussed the extension of the Las Vegas Monorail to McCarran International Airport. Randall Walker, director of the Clark County Department of Aviation, said the average traveler has 3.4 bags and doesn't want to wrestle with them, which he said could be a problem if the monorail is ever extended to the airport.

But he said the monorail has to get “its financial house” in order before there is any talk of extending the line.

Walker told the committee that environmental impact statements are underway on the future airport in the Ivanpah Valley about 30 miles south of McCarran. The opening of the airport on 6,000 acres would be in 2018 at the earliest, he said.

Ivanpah would be “supplemental” to McCarran and handle 30 to 35 million passengers. McCarran had 44 million passengers in 2008, and that was down by more than 7 percent.

Ivanpah would probably serve international flights, charters and long hauls from the East Coast, he said.

Cy Ryan may be reached at (775) 687 5032 or [email protected].

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