As travelers and truckers experience congestion on the I-15 between Las Vegas and Southern California during the holidays, they may or may not find relief in knowing that to get to family reunions and bowling alley. next year will be less frustrating.
That’s when a temporary solution to widening a 5-mile stretch of highway will be completed, the governors of Nevada and California recently announced.
The announcement came a week after Thanksgiving traffic was reportedly blocked up to 20 miles from where I-15 crosses the Nevada-California border.
“The traffic nightmare on I-15 southbound is a rite of passage for motorists on vacation weekends leaving Las Vegas. Since the start of the year, the volume of traffic has continued to increase on the freeway, ”according to a Nov. 28 report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal accompanied by photos of the freeway resembling a parking lot filled with cars and semi-trailers.
Interstate 15 runs from the Montana-Canada border through six states before ending in San Diego, California. Along the 1,470 mile route through the West Mountain, the freeway picks up traffic at intersections with I-90 in Montana, I-84 in Idaho and Utah, and I-80 and I-70 in Utah before entering California.
But the most worrying congestion comes from a 5-mile southerly stretch that runs from three lanes to two between the border town of Primm, Nevada, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture farm station. .
“This five-mile stretch of highway is critical infrastructure not only for our two states, but for the entire country. However, the hours of traffic deter tourism and the flow of goods, “California Governor Gavin Newsom said in a press release, which described I-15 as an” economic lifeline because of its role. in the supply chain ”.
A 2017 report on the I-15 Corridor Master Plan covering Utah, Arizona, Nevada and California said the freeway “transports $ 95 billion in trade annually to and from local communities and the world market “and serves as the primary gateway for anyone traveling from Las Vegas to Southern California.
With weekend freeway traffic as a backdrop to the Dec. 5 press conference, Newsom gave Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak credit for pushing California to tackle the southbound congestion that can travel 113 miles from the Nevada state border to Barstow, Calif., for the last time. from three to five hours.
Nevada had widened its side of the highway to three lanes several years ago and Newsom said Sisolak called to say “we can’t take it anymore.” California must step up its efforts, ”according to the Review-Journal.
“When we asked them on our side of the border ‘What is Caltrans going to do?’ the answer is that we haven’t prepared anything. Everything changed when the Governor (Sisolak) called a few weeks ago, rather than complain, rather than issue press releases about it, ”Newsom said. “You actually picked up the phone and asked if there was anything we could do. This is rather new in the current political climate.
Both governors are Democrats.
For the problematic 5-mile road segment, Caltrans will spend $ 12 million to transform the shoulder of the road into a third lane during peak periods of congestion – primarily Sundays and Mondays.
Construction is expected to begin by mid-spring 2022, with completion expected by the end of summer 2022.
The governors recognized that the creation of three out of two motorway lanes is a temporary solution to a problem that requires a permanent solution.
“We are not passively interested in trying to solve this problem on an episodic basis. We’re here for the long haul. We want this fixed. And I made that clear to my team, ”Newsom said.
Both governors noted that a slowly moving solution is a high-speed train.
“I came here in 1976 and they were talking about the bullet train between California and Nevada, and they are still talking about it. But we are making progress now, ”Sisolak said, according to KNTV.
He was referring to a private company known as Brightline West, which bought land in July for a terminal in Las Vegas and is working with officials in Nevada and California to lay some 260 miles of track for a electric train between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The company, which operates commuter trains in Florida, did not disclose an expected completion date for its west coast project.
Melanie Curry, writing for Streetsblog Cal, offered alternatives until a bullet train becomes reality. She suggested tolls, dedicated carpool and bus lanes, and the promotion of public transit between the two cities.
“California might be good at building freeways,” she warned, “but it’s a bad habit that we have to break.”