Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman Seeks to Widen Interstate 15

Posted on: October 17, 2021, 01:14h. 

Last updated on: October 17, 2021, 02:38h.

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman has taken to Twitter to push widening narrow portions of Interstate 15 that create traffic bottlenecks between Los Angeles and tourism-dependent Las Vegas.

Carolyn Goodman
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman flips through a document while conducting a meeting. The mayor is pushing for support in an I-15 widening project. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

In a recent tweet, Goodman said it is time to widen I-15 between the Nevada state line and Barstow, California. She called this 112-mile stretch an “economic lifeline,” important to hotel-casinos in Las Vegas. In the tweet, Goodman tagged US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and US Rep. Dina Titus (D).   

The Los Angeles area is vital to tourism in the Las Vegas Valley, especially with air travel in a steep slump during the coronavirus pandemic.

Los Angeles, the nearest major metropolitan area to Las Vegas, is at least four hours away by car. That trip is even longer at the end of the day on Fridays and Sundays for visitors caught in miles-long traffic jams near the border between the two states.

Southern Nevada tourism officials have expressed concern that this traffic congestion can be an impediment to tourists. A proposed high-speed train to Las Vegas from Apple Valley, California, east of Los Angeles, could help relieve the congestion. However, construction isn’t expected to begin until next year. The Apple Valley terminal ultimately would be linked by rail extensions to Los Angeles. 

At the recent Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas, Titus noted that people have to be able to get to the gaming capital “to enjoy what we have to offer,” according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. 

Here in Nevada, if you go I-15 to Southern California on the weekends, that’s just like a parking lot, there’s so much traffic,” she said. “We need to lighten that.”

A $1.2 trillion spending bill stalled in Congress would provide funding for interstate improvements and high-speed rail construction, the newspaper reported.

‘A Consistent Problem’

Steve Hill, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, said there are four bottleneck spots roughly from the border town of Primm, Nevada, to Baker, California, about 50 miles away. These locations are a problem because the interstate narrows from three to two lanes there, the newspaper reported. 

“The two really critical points where that happens are in the southbound lane (toward Los Angeles),” Hill said. “One is right at the state line, maybe a half-mile inside of Nevada, and extends a few miles past the agriculture station. Widening that two-lane stretch to three lanes would eliminate that funnel that inevitably every weekend creates a bottleneck there.”

Hill said about 30 of the miles between the Nevada border and Baker “are two-lane roads rather than three-lane roads, but they create a consistent problem, particularly on the southbound side.”

At a cost of $3 million per mile, with additional costs for environmental protection and needs such as bridges, the I-15 widening could come in at about $100 million, he said.

National Supply Chain

The need to widen I-15 is important not just to Las Vegas tourism, but also to the nation in transporting goods from the Los Angeles port to points eastward, Goodman noted. Cargo ships are anchored off the coast right now, waiting to be unloaded. 

“The supply chain issues are hurting the country,” the mayor recently tweeted. “Getting cargo off the ships and out of the harbor is a first step, but we need to ensure our infrastructure does not cause other bottlenecks. This means widening I-15 between (the Nevada) state line and Barstow.”