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Off Ramp
Photo by Brent Holmes

Visual Commentary: Ramping Up

Desert Companion

Love it or hate it, Project Neon is done this month

Oooh, look at all those swooping ramps and lanes, those concrete buttresses, those busy signs. It’s all so … industrially urban. So mightily infrastructural. So bustling, expansive, and complex.

After three years of orange cones and blinking signage, Project Neon is just about complete. The Nevada Department of Transportation is fond of reminding us that it’s Nevada largest and most expensive public works project ever. But superlatives cut both ways: It could also, at times, be the most dashboard-punchingly maddening piece of transportation infrastructure-in-progress you’ve ever had to navigate.

Will Project Neon work as intended, detangling the Spaghetti Bowl? Or will it just enable more congestion? Too early to tell. But inasmuch as big public works projects engage our collective imagination about what could be — or at least give us a common conversational bonfire to gather around with our complaints and outrages — Project Neon’s civic footprint seems aspirational in ways that go beyond mere form and function. It feels big city. And so we say ... congratulations? (Until we’re stuck again for 27 minutes on southbound US 95 near the Downtown exits.)

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