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October 21, 2014

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Transportation:

Should fuel tax increase win approval, RTC ready to go with dozens of projects

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Nevada Department of Transportation

This artist’s rendering shows what the redesigned interchange of Boulder City Bypass and U.S. 93 would look like at Railroad Pass. Railroad Pass Casino is at left. If U.S. 93 is designated an interstate between Las Vegas and Phoenix, the bypass route would become part of the interstate, officials say.

If the Clark County Commission approves an increase in the fuel tax this week, it won’t be long before construction crews are put to work on dozens of new road projects, the Regional Transportation Commission says.

Working with public works directors from local municipalities, the RTC has put together a punch list of more than 100 projects on which it would use the new revenue. Many of those projects are already planned and waiting to be funded.

If the county commission approves the increase, which would tie the 52.5 cents-per-gallon fuel tax to inflation for the next three years, the RTC predicts construction would start by next spring.

The RTC serves as the valley’s central transportation funding agency, collecting fuel taxes and a share of sales taxes and then reallocating the funds to local governments for specific projects.

The fuel tax increase, if approved, is expected to allow officials to fund about $700 million worth of bonded projects. The largest project funded under the tax increase would be the Boulder City bypass, which ultimately could become a part of a new Interstate 11 from Las Vegas to Phoenix.

The $201 million devoted from the local fuel tax would cover only a fraction of the total cost of the bypass. But other projects including tens of millions of dollars of improvements to surface streets in Henderson, North Las Vegas and Las Vegas would be fully funded with the new revenues.

Those improvements to surface streets generally entail a wide range of upgrades, including repaving, widening, adding fire hydrants, streetlights, traffic signals and landscaping.

Here’s a look at the 10 biggest projects the RTC would fund with the new tax revenue:

    • Boulder City Bypass

      Another link in the proposed future interstate connecting Las Vegas to Phoenix, the bypass would extend off U.S. 93 and around the edge of Boulder City, eliminating the need for the often time-consuming drive through the town’s main streets.

      Cost: $201 million

      Funding: Partial

      Entity: Boulder City

    • 215 Beltway Airport Connector Phase 2

      Part of a continuing large-scale overhaul of the roads around McCarran International Airport to increase capacity, this estimated $50 million phase of construction will involve repaving and widening of ramps and bridges.

      Cost: $26.5 million

      Funding: Partial

      Entity: Clark County

    • 215 Beltway, from Decatur Boulevard to North Fifth Street

      Part of the RTC’s continuing efforts to bring the entire beltway up to freeway standards, this project will widen the existing portion of road from four lanes to six.

      Cost: $52 million

      Funding: Full

      Entity:Clark County

    • Stephanie Street, from Russell Road to Galleria Drive

      This two-lane stretch of road will be improved to include six lanes, including a bridge over U.S. 95.

      Cost: $20 million

      Funding: Full

      Entity: Henderson

    • Las Vegas Boulevard, from Stewart Avenue to Sahara Avenue

      This project will rehabilitate the well-worn road, including repaving, improving storm drainage, widening sidewalks and adding bus stop improvements.

      Cost: $22.9 million

      Funding: Full

      Entity: Las Vegas

    • Main Street and Commerce Street Couplet

      These parallel downtown streets will be converted into a pair of one-way roads running in opposite directions, using the saved space to add bike lanes, wider sidewalks and more room for buses.

      Cost: $18 million

      Funding: Full

      Entity: Las Vegas

    • Exit 118 on I-15

      This project will add an exit from Interstate 15 to Pioneer Boulevard in Mesquite near mile marker 118.

      Cost: $20 million

      Funding: Full

      Entity: Mesquite

    • U.S. 95, from Ann Road to Durango Drive

      The freeway will be widened from six lanes to eight and feature the addition of carpool lanes.

      Cost: $6.4 million

      Funding: Partial

      Entity: Nevada Department of Transportation

    • Simmons Street, from Carey Avenue to Lone Mountain Road

      This three-mile stretch of road will be increased from four travel lanes to six.

      Cost: $10 million

      Funding: Full

      Entity: North Las Vegas

    • Losee Road, from Lone Mountain Road to the 215 Beltway

      The current four lanes will be upgraded to six over about three miles of roadway.

      Cost: $15.1 million

      Funding: Full

      Entity: North Las Vegas

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