Monday, May 4, 2009 | 2 a.m.
Boulder City residents have long sought construction of a bypass highway that would allow motorists traveling between Las Vegas and Hoover Dam to drive around their town as opposed to driving through it, as they are now forced to do.
But the dream highway is burdened by a $500 million price tag.
One proposal to help pay for it was raised in the 2007 Legislature and again in the current one: Authorize a toll on highway users to pay back the cost of construction.
The idea was rejected in 2007 and has been again.
Two pieces of legislation that could have taken steps toward legalizing such tolls died in an Assembly committee last week.
When a new bridge near Hoover Dam opens next year, truck traffic, which has been banned since the 9/11 attacks, will return to U.S. 93, which cuts directly through the small town.
Predictions abound of massive traffic jams when the 18-wheelers return.
The city has about $33 million in federal earmarks for the highway bypass project.
Civic leaders, worried that the proposed bypass is viewed as simply a convenience for the 16,000 city residents, have begun stressing that the route will be used by thousands of trucks as part of an international trade corridor between Mexico and Canada.
The trucking industry lobby has not taken a firm stance on the project.
“I think people are just waiting to see what happens,” Boulder City Mayor Roger Tobler said. “We think gridlock is a worst-case scenario. People outside of town just think we had the trucks before and we can handle them again.
“If there is a problem, we will see trucking get involved and we will get help.”
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North Las Vegas continues its push for union concessions as it tries to trim an additional $17 million from next year’s budget.
Most recently the North Las Vegas Police Officers Association reached an agreement with the city that could trim $4.4 million from the budget.
The police union agreed to a voluntary separation package, to defer a cost-of-living increase and to defer a clothing allowance for six months.
The city reached a similar agreement last month with the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1607 that will save about $1.5 million.
The city’s union negotiations came to the forefront when more than 200 people, mostly city workers, attended a City Council meeting to hear discussion about the possible layoff of 160 people.
That meeting followed Teamsters Local 14, which represents 1,200 employees, rejecting a proposal to defer a cost-of-living raise and the option to sell unused sick days back to the city.
Negotiations between the Teamsters and city continue.
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Here’s a sign of the times in Henderson.
During the first three months of 2009, the city’s fitness facilities had a 9 percent increase in use compared with the same time period last year.
Residents used city fitness rooms — complete with weights, treadmills and elliptical machines — about 522,000 times in the first quarter.
City officials can think of only one reason for the increased use: the economy.
“People who might have belonged to a health club may have canceled those memberships,” said Kim Becker, a spokeswoman for the city’s thriving recreation department. “It’s a bit less expensive to go to our facilities.”
The city weight rooms may be much smaller than the huge gyms across the Las Vegas Valley, and they are not open 24 hours a day.
But they essentially have the same equipment. It costs $3 per day, $15 per month or $135 per year to use the city facilities.
The city, with six recreation centers, 46 parks and 32 miles of paved trails, was named Sports Illustrated Sports Town for Nevada and last year Kaboom, a national nonprofit organization, named the city one of the most playful in the country.