"Carnado," the first phase of the Project Neon freeway expansion, is over.
That's welcome news to valley motorists, but an even bigger phase of construction is on its way. It’s called "The Big Squeeze," and it begins March 21.
"The squeeze is coming on U.S. 95 both north and south bound in between Rancho Drive and the Las Vegas Spaghetti Bowl," said spokesperson for Nevada Department of Transportation Tony Illia. "There are currently three lanes in each direction. We're squeezing it down to two."
The lanes closures will shift back and forth from north to south during different parts of the project, which will last 300 days, or roughly 10 months.
The lanes will be closed while construction crews build an eight-story-tall, half-mile-long, high-occupancy vehicle bridge that will connect from southbound U.S. Highway 95 to southbound Interstate 15 and from northbound I-15 to northbound 95.
"This is a massive concrete structure, 18 spans, 19 support columns," Illia said. Crews will also be replacing the concrete pavement along U.S. 95, which hasn't been replaced since 1992.
To help with the traffic, Illia said NDOT will be asking people to use the zipper merge approach, instead of the early merge model. Early merge is when you see a merge sign and you get over immediately, leaving unused lane space.
"Zipper merge is going to ask people to take turns merging, 'I go, you go,'" Illia said, which makes the merger quicker and safer.
Carnado was expected by many to be a traffic nightmare, but there were few complaints about the four-month long project.
"Our strategy is to really brace people for the worst and have things turn out not so bad," Illia said.
Valley View Boulevard, Decatur Boulevard, Rancho Drive
Las Vegas Boulevard and Eastern Avenue
NDOT also recommends using the Waze app for real time traffic information.
Project Neon is expected to be finished in summer 2019. NDOT said when finished it could cut commutes through the center of the city by 30 percent, saving millions of dollars every year.
Tony Illia, spokesman, Nevada Department of Transportation
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