TRIP: New Report Identifies Nevada’s 40 Most Needed Transportation Projects For Economic Growth

Projects Would Improve And Modernize Road And Transit Systems To Support And Expand The State’s Economy

In order to adequately support Nevada’s economic recovery and provide for additional economic growth, the Silver State will need to make numerous improvements to its surface transportation system. This is according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation research organization.

TRIP’s report, “The Top 40 Surface Transportation Projects to Support Economic Growth in Nevada,” identifies and ranks the projects most needed to provide Nevada with a transportation system that can support the increased movement of people, goods and resources throughout the state.  The most needed surface transportation improvements in Nevada include 31 projects to build, expand or modernize highways, five projects to improve public transit or provide intermodal facilities and four projects to improve the state’s traffic management system.  These improvements would enhance economic development opportunities throughout the state by increasing mobility and freight movement, easing congestion, and making Nevada a more attractive place to live, visit and do business.

According to the TRIP report, the most needed projects for the state’s economic growth are as follows:

A full list of needed projects, descriptions and their impact on economic development can be found in the appendix of the report.

“We appreciate the efforts of the TRIP organization in bringing to the public the importance of transportation,” Nevada Department of Transportation Director Susan Martinovich said. “And we will continue to work with our partners across the state to provide a reliable and safe transportation system.”

Enhancing critical segments of Nevada’s surface transportation system will boost the state’s economy in the short-term by creating jobs in construction and related fields. In the long- term these improvements will enhance economic competitiveness by reducing travel delays and transportation costs, improving access and mobility, improving safety, and stimulating sustained job growth, improving the quality of life for the state’s residents and visitors.

“These projects are key to turning around our economy. Investing in transportation projects will immediately create private sector jobs and leave us with assets that our community can use for decades to come. We can’t afford not to make the investment now,” said Jacob Snow, general manager of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada.

TRIP ranked each transportation project based on a rating system that considered the following: short-term economic benefits, including job creation; the level of improvement in the condition of the transportation facility, including safety improvements; the degree of improvement in access and mobility; and the long-term improvement provided in regional or state economic performance and competitiveness.

“Nevada can’t get where it wants to go – in both a literal and an economic sense – without an efficient transportation system” said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP. “It is critical that Nevada’s transportation system is adequately funded at the local, state and federal level. Thousands of jobs and the state’s economic well being are riding on it.”

TRIP’s Top 40 Surface Transportation Projects to Support Economic Growth in Nevada

March 2011

Executive Summary

Nevada’s transportation system has played a significant role in the state’s development, providing mobility and access for residents, visitors and businesses. The state’s roads, highways and public transit systems remain the backbone of Nevada’s economy. The Silver State’s transportation system has helped support a high quality of life and make the state a desirable place to live and visit. With America experiencing the deepest recession since the Great Depression, the quality of Nevada’s transportation system will play a critical role in bolstering the state’s economic recovery and supporting future economic development.

To achieve sustainable economic growth, Nevada must proceed with numerous projects to improve key roads, highways and public transit systems. This will allow Nevada to leverage several existing advantages, including its position as the nation’s fastest growing state, its desirable quality of life and the fact that it is home to Las Vegas, the second-most popular tourist destination in the U.S. Enhancing critical segments of Nevada’s surface transportation system will boost the state’s economy in the short-term by creating jobs in construction and related fields. In the long-term these improvements will enhance economic competitiveness and improve the quality of life for the state’s residents and visitors by reducing travel delays and transportation costs, improving access and mobility, improving safety, and stimulating sustained job growth.

In this report, TRIP examines recent transportation and economic trends in Nevada and provides information on the surface transportation projects in the state that are most needed to support economic growth. Sources of data include the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT), the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), and the U.S. Census Bureau. All data used in the report is the latest available.

TRIP has identified and ranked the 40 surface transportation projects that are most needed to support Nevada’s economic growth. These projects are located throughout the state.

  • The most needed surface transportation improvements in Nevada include 31 projects to build, expand or modernize highways, five projects to improve public transit or provide intermodal facilities and four projects to improve the state’s traffic management systems. These improvements would enhance economic development opportunities throughout the state by increasing mobility and freight movement, easing congestion, enhancing safety and making Nevada an attractive place to live, visit and do business.
  • TRIP ranked each transportation project based on a rating system that considered the following: short-term economic benefits, including job creation; the level of improvement in the condition of the transportation facility, including safetyimprovements; the degree of improvement in access and mobility; and the long- term improvement provided in regional or state economic performance and competitiveness.
  • Nevada’s 10 most needed surface transportation projects to support economic development in the state as determined by TRIP follow. Additional details on these and the other projects that make up the 40 most needed projects in Nevada for economic recovery and growth are included in the report’s Appendix.

1.   Improvements to the southern portion of I-15 in Clark County. This multi-part project will improve the southern portion of the I-15 corridor in Clark County from Sloan to Tropicana, including the widening of portions of I-15 and Las Vegas Boulevard and the construction of six new interchanges, one overpass and new collector-distributor lanes. The widening and improvement to this portion of the I- 15 Corridor would provide significant congestion relief, providing improved access, reduced trip times, improved safety and reduced emissions. Improvement to this route will enhance local and regional business productivity.

2.   Improvements to the northern portion of I-15 in Clark County. Spanning from US 95 to Apex, the first phase of this three-phase project will widen I-15 from six to ten lanes from US 95 to Lake Mead Boulevard including re-alignment of on and off ramps, widening I-15 to eight lanes from Lake Mead Boulevard to Craig Road, reconfiguring the Lake Mead Boulevard Interchange, and constructing a new connection road linking D Street and F Street between I-15 and Bonanza Road. The second phase would widen I-15 from four to six lanes from Craig Road to Speedway Boulevard. Phase three includes widening 4.6 miles of I-15 from four lanes to six lanes from Speedway Boulevard to the Apex Interchange. This project will reduce congestion and trip times, provide improved access, improve safety and reduce emissions. Improvements to I-15 will improve business productivity and downtown access, which will support redevelopment projects in downtown Las Vegas. The project also provides improved access to areas planned for development in North Las Vegas.

3.   Extension of I-580 in Washoe County. This project includes 8.5 miles of new six- lane controlled access freeway, the completion of the Mt. Rose Interchange and construction of a new interchange at Bowers Mansion Road. It also includes construction of two grade separations and five bridges, Kelly Canyon Road (frontage road) and Parker Ranch Road to maintain local access at the south end of the project. Construction will result in 27 miles of uninterrupted controlled access facility that meets interstate standards and will serve as an important portion of an interstate highway link between Mexico and Canada and a major local arterial. The project will also provide the only all-weather connection between Carson City and Reno, Sparks and I 80. Completion will alleviate congestion, accommodate future travel growth and improve safety.

4.   Improvements to portions of I-80 from Robb Drive to Vista Boulevard in Washoe County. This project would improve operations, safety and capacity along I-80 and provide better connectivity between I-80 and I-580/US 395 to accommodate future travel growth.

5.   Construction of a new freeway in the Pyramid Corridor in Washoe County. In order to improve connectivity and mobility, current recommendations for this project are for five miles of new freeway along an existing arterial and a new east/west connecting freeway approximately four miles in length. Without this element of the regional transportation plan, a very large portion of the region’s population will not have adequate mobility.

6.   Widening and improving I-15 from Spaghetti Bowl to South of Sahara in Clark County. This project includes construction of high occupancy vehicle lanes, modernization of the I-15/Charleston Interchange and improvements to access ramps and collector roads leading to this portion of I-15. The improvements will accommodate anticipated traffic increases on this route, reducing traffic congestion and improving downtown access, which will support redevelopment projects in downtown Las Vegas.

7.   Widening and improving I-15 from Sloan to Stateline. This project will increase capacity by widening I-15 to eight lanes to accommodate projected local and interstate traffic. The project would widen several bridges and a grade separation at UPRR and improve on/off ramps at Primm and Sloan Interchanges. Congestion and travel times would decrease as a result.

8.   US 93/95 expansion and improvements in Boulder/Hoover Dam area. This multi-part project includes the construction of a Boulder City Bypass on US 93/95, an extension from US 95 to tie into the Hoover Dam Bypass, and realignment of US 93 to create a highway bypass around Hoover Dam tying into existing US 93. The project will increase capacity, reduce congestion, boost safety, improve local access and provide improved access to a major tourist destination.

9.   US 95 extension in Clark County. This project extends from Washington Avenue to Kyle Canyon Road and includes multiple interchanges. It is needed to alleviate congestion within the corridor by increasing capacity and providing new and improved freeway connections to boost regional connectivity.

10.   Improvements to I-515 from I-15 to Horizon Drive. This project would improve operational efficiency, capacity and safety by reconstructing the Downtown Las Vegas viaduct, constructing new interchanges at “City Parkway”, Pecos Road and Sahara Avenue, constructing Bonanza Road overcrossing of Las Vegas Boulevard, realigning Stewart Avenue and Sahara Avenue, and reconstructing and expanding pedestrian and bicycle facilities. Project completion would increase traffic volumes to acceptable operating speeds, reduce traffic at congested interchanges, improve traffic operations and enhance safety.

Surface transportation projects that improve the efficiency, condition or safety of a highway or transit route provide significant economic benefits by reducing transportation delays and costs associated with a deficient transportation system. Following are some of the benefits of making transportation improvements.

  • Improved business competitiveness due to reduced production and distribution costs as a result of increased travel speeds and fewer mobility barriers.
  • Improvements in household welfare resulting from better access to higher-paying jobs, a wider selection of competitively priced consumer goods, additional housing and healthcare options, and improved mobility for residents without access to private vehicles.
  • Gains in local, regional and state economies due to improved regional economic competitiveness, which stimulates population and job growth.
  • Increased leisure/tourism and business travel resulting from the enhanced condition and reliability of a region’s transportation system.
  • A reduction in economic losses from vehicle crashes, traffic congestion and vehicle maintenance costs associated with driving on deficient roads.
  • The creation of both short-term and long-term jobs.
  • Transportation projects that expand roadway or transit capacity produce significant economic benefits by reducing congestion and improving access, thus speeding the flow of people and goods while reducing fuel consumption.
  • Transportation projects that maintain and preserve existing transportation infrastructure provide significant economic benefits by improving travel speeds, capacity, load-carrying abilities and safety, and reducing operating costs for people and businesses. Such projects also extend the service life of a road, bridge or transit vehicle or facility, which saves money by either postponing or eliminating the need for more expensive future repairs.
  • Site Selection magazine’s 2010 survey of corporate real estate executives found that transportation infrastructure was the third most important selection factor in making site location decisions, behind only work force skills and state and local taxes.
  • A 2007 analysis by the Federal Highway Administration found that every $1 billion invested in highway construction would support approximately 27,800 jobs, including approximately 9,500 in the construction sector, approximately 4,300 jobs in industries supporting the construction sector, and approximately 14,000 other jobs induced in non-construction related sectors of the economy.
  • The Federal Highway Administration estimates that each dollar spent on road, highway and bridge improvements results in an average benefit of $5.20 in the form of reduced vehicle maintenance costs, reduced delays, reduced fuel consumption, improved safety, reduced road and bridge maintenance costs, and reduced emissions as a result of improved traffic flow.

Nevada, which is heavily reliant on economic sectors that are very sensitive to national economic trends, was hard hit by the deepest recession since the Great Depression. A return to modest economic growth is forecast for Nevada in 2011.

  • In January 2008, Nevada’s unemployment rate was five percent. By January 2011, Nevada’s unemployment had nearly tripled to 14.2 percent, the highest rate in the nation and significantly higher that the national average of nine percent.
  • Between January 2000 and February 2008, Nevada added 251,000 jobs, but has since lost 120,000 jobs.
  • In 2010, Nevada experienced the largest decrease in economic activity in the U.S. with a 1.4 percent decrease in real gross state product (GSP), which is corrected for price changes. Total real GSP in the U.S. increased by 0.4 percent in 2010.
  • Nevada’s economy is forecast to return to positive growth in 2011, but with an expected rate of real GSP growth of 2.1 percent in 2011, Nevada has lowest rate of growth forecast in the U.S.
  • Nevada is heavily reliant on tourism, gaming, entertainment, construction and real estate, economic sectors that were all impacted severely by the nation’s economic downturn.
  • From 1990 to 2009, Nevada’s population increased by 120 percent, from approximately 1.2 million to approximately 2.6 million, the fastest rate of growth in the nation. Nevada’s population is expected to increase to 4.3 million by 2030.
  • From 1990 to 2009, annual vehicle-miles-of-travel (VMT) in the state doubled from approximately 10.2 billion VMT to 20.4 billion VMT. Based on travel and population trends, TRIP estimates that vehicle travel in Nevada will increase another 60 percent by 2030, reaching approximately 33 billion VMT.

Nevada’s economy is served by an extensive surface transportation system that has significant deficiencies. Roads carry the majority of freight shipped in the state.

  • Nevada is served by a system of 33,907 miles of roads and 1,753 bridges, maintained by local, state and federal governments, which carry 20.4 billion vehicle miles of travel annually.
  • Approximately one in seven of Nevada’s major roads are deficient, with five percent rated in poor condition in 2008. An additional nine percent of the state’s major roads were rated in mediocre condition in 2008.
  • Two percent of Nevada’s bridges were rated structurally deficient in 2010. A bridge is structurally deficient if there is significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components. Structurally deficient bridges are often posted for lower weight or closed to traffic, restricting or redirecting large vehicles, including commercial trucks, school buses and emergency services vehicles.
  • In 2010 10 percent of Nevada’s bridges were rated as functionally obsolete. Bridges that are functionally obsolete no longer meet current highway design standards, often because of narrow lanes, inadequate clearances or poor alignment.
  • Every year, $53 billion in goods are shipped annually from sites in Nevada and another $77 billion in goods are shipped annually to sites in Nevada, mostly by truck.
  • Seventy-eight percent of the goods shipped annually from sites in Nevada are carried by trucks and another 18 percent are carried by parcel, U.S. Postal Service or courier services, which use trucks for part of the deliveries.

Sources of data include the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT), the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), and the U.S. Census Bureau. All data used in the report is the latest available.

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