Is it time to revamp Las Vegas freeways?

Directory signs on the I-15. Taken by Carlos Flores.

Over the years, Las Vegas’s population has continued to grow at a rapid pace, and has even persisted this past year despite COVID-19 shutting down Southern Nevada’s casino resorts. According to writer Devin O’Connor, Las Vegas’s population grew 2.2 percent, roughly 50,900 people in 2020, and continues to rise. 

Aside from the casinos, Las Vegas as a whole is becoming more invested in sports and also has the benefit of no income tax, which attracts people from all over into settling down in the Valley. 

However, with more people moving to Las Vegas, this has caused most of our freeways to be congested with more frequent traffic jams. Most UNLV students and staff drive to and from our university, and with more cars on the road, it adds anxiety and stress to students as if they don’t already have enough.

A possible solution to reduce the infuriating traffic jams on the freeways is to revamp them. The busiest highways, such as the I-215, get congested and cause traffic jams daily, so an expansion of the city’s busiest highways could aid in making driving less stressful and improve travel times.

This idea was sprung up by the mayor of Las Vegas, Carolyn Goodman. Last Thursday, Mayor Goodman called to widen Interstate 15 between the Nevada state line and Barstow. 

According to FOX5 writers Caitlin Lilly and Maddie White, she renewed this idea following President Joe Biden’s administration’s announcement that the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach would operate around the clock, seven days a week. Weekends are usually when port activity is open and are when the I-15 is the busiest. 

Lilly and White also reported Goodman’s reaction, as she stated, “This isn’t rocket science, you’ve got a long jam in the Pacific Ocean of cargo sitting. You need to unload it, and then you need to move it. You don’t just unload it and let it sit.”s

A longtime truck driver and instructor for entry-level drivers, Clifton Ellis, said it should not take nine hours between Las Vegas and Los Angeles, and unfortunately, it sometimes happens. 

“It’s not good for anybody,” Ellis said. “When you get to the state line, and you get that bottleneck right down. It’s terrible.” 

Right now, the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) began U.S. 95 construction in downtown Las Vegas to resurface and rehab the roads, and is estimated to finish in December 2022. 

The project also stretches from the spaghetti bowl to Eastern Avenue, and over the weekend, southbound traffic is limited to two lanes, which causes major traffic congestion. With this project taking place, it will eventually help in alleviating this problem.

So, should the NDOT also reconsider updating our other interstate highways such as I-215 and I-515? 

Traffic is daily, no matter what time you are on the road. However, if we change and update our roads, it’s going to cause more traffic jams in the short run, but in the long run, traffic should be mitigated. No matter what choice our city chooses, Las Vegas is still going to have traffic problems for now, but that could change if we made the move to update our freeways.


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