Las Vegas rolls out massive transportation plan

Photo by ADTeasdale licensed under CC BY 2.0

Still extremely early in process, plan includes light rail, monorail, pedestrian features

Transportation planners in Las Vegas are shooting high and aiming for big moves. Last week, the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) of Southern Nevada released its 30-year plan for the city, and it’s quite large. Without even taking construction costs into consideration, the price tag for the plan’s design hovers between $7 billion and $12 billion.

Called the Transportation Investment Business Plan, it includes the light rail system, an expanded monorail that would connect the city’s multiple convention centers and other infrastructure improvements like seven pedestrian bridges (including an “iconic” circular bridge connecting Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard South) and elevated sidewalks.Contracting opportunities will proliferate because of this plan.

The planned light rail system’s expected costs vary according to which option is chosen. It lays out alternatives for trains to run below, above and at street level. It would connect the Las Vegas Strip, downtown and McCarran International Airport. The RTC said it might be able to obtain almost half of the construction costs for the light rail system from federal sources and suggests the project could be a prime opportunity for a public-private partnership (P3).

Among the other features are an expansion of the city’s existing monorail that would connect it to the Mandalay Bay and add a new station at the Sands Expo and Convention Center. A trolley would move people downtown, and a high-capacity transit line would be added on Maryland Parkway. These are all in addition to extensive work done to the city’s highways and major roads.

The plan focuses on the central part of the Las Vegas metropolitan area, what it refers to as the Core Area. That includes the Las Vegas Strip (and wider Resort Corridor), the downtown area, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the airport. The RTC breaks out the plan’s goals into seven types of projects:

  • Enhance visitor mobility between McCarran International Airport, the Resort Corridor and downtown;
  • Improve pedestrian safety and mobility along Las Vegas Boulevard;
  • Improve connections between convention and event facilities;
  • Improve connectivity between the Core Area and workforce population centers;
  • Improve Core Area access from I-15;
  • Improve downtown circulation and access; and
  • Implement policies and programs that support transportation infrastructure coordination and implementation.

The transportation commission plans to bring its vision to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee in the new year.

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