an member station
One of Nevada's biggest infrastructure projects in recent memory is in the home stretch.
Project Neon, a reconstruction of Las Vegas' spaghetti bowl interchange, has been underway since November 2015.
Tony Illia is the public information officer with Nevada's Department of Transportation. He said the $1 billion four-mile long project is the largest infrastructure project in the state's history.
And while it has been frustrating at times for drivers, it was urgently needed.
"We felt that this was really necessary and necessary now for no other reason than this stretch highway sees 300,000 vehicles a day," he said. "That's roughly a tenth of the state's population.”
Besides the number of vehicles, every day the area saw 25,000 lane changes and averaged three crashes.
"A lot of what we're doing is not only an expansion, but a reconfiguration,” he said.
Illia said the reconfiguration will hopefully cut down on the "merge and weave movements" that so many drivers take to make an exit.
He also said the finished project will cut down on travel delays that cost people's productivity, improve air quality and road safety.
The new highway will also include 22 miles of freeway-to-freeway connected high-capacity lanes or carpool lanes.
The old express lanes required drivers to merge back and forth; with the newly connected carpool lanes, cars with two or more occupants will be able to bypass traffic.
The project aims to improve traffic for tourists and locals, but Illia admits it may not be the last time Southern Nevada will see the important stretch of highway reconfigured.
"I'm not here to say that Project Neon is going to fix everything forever," he said. "The town keeps growing."
Illia said NDOT and traffic engineers do their best to forecast what will be needed, but they're not always accurate because the population of the Las Vegas Valley keeps booming.
Tony Illia, NDOT
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