Thursday, March 26, 2009 | midnight
The idea started to take shape in 2002: building a bridge across Interstate 515 in Henderson, which would extend Galleria Drive, a road long relegated to simply moving shoppers along Galleria mall’s fringe, to Henderson’s eastern corridor.
Today, the cement is pouring, and construction machinery is moving on the site, which city leaders had to make a case for to receive Question 10 transportation funds from the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada. By October, the new artery from Galleria Mall at Stephanie Street to Boulder Highway should be complete, according to Jonna Sansom, an engineer with Henderson’s Department of Public Works.
“Someday, it’ll go all the way to Lake Las Vegas. But we’ll get to Boulder Highway by the end of this year,” she said.
Construction on the six-bridge system started last April and will comprise six lanes from Stephanie Street east to Gibson Road, then reduce to four lanes from Gibson to Boulder Highway.
For years, area residents have had to endure heavy traffic along Sunset Road when trying to get to the mall from I-515. Now they’ll have another freeway exit to choose from other than Russell, a mile north of the mall area, which is considered one of the largest retail corridors in the state.
Early estimates for the Galleria interchange project about 47,000 vehicles daily, an approximately 70 percent reduction in vehicles at the Sunset interchange and a 30 percent reduction in vehicle traffic from Russell Road.
The $66.3 million project also represents a unique working relationship between the city and the Nevada Department of Transportation. Under the agreement, Frehner Construction Co., the contractor on the job, is paid by the city of Henderson, which receives the Question 10 funds from the RTC. But NDOT actually manages the construction site.
“Primarily, this type of project would be funded by NDOT, and they would manage the construction. So this is very rare,” said Sansom.
The interchange consists of six bridges, three concrete and three steel. There are also two braided ramps: The southbound I-515 on-ramp goes over the Sunset off-ramp, while the northbound I-515 off-ramp onto Galleria Drive goes over the Sunset northbound on-ramp.
The site also will allow for additional access to and from Central Christian Church at nearby 1001 New Beginnings Drive. The additional access road that will run parallel but to the east of the I-515 freeway will help relieve congestion from Russell Road during church events.
Designers allowed for a five-lane wide-access road to run under the Galleria Drive bridge on the east side of I-515. While the existing two-lane access road was torn up by the city, the church will pay to extend the five-lane road from the bridge area to the facility.