Raiders' Las Vegas stadium bridge could alter I-15 plans
- Plans for a pedestrian bridge connecting the new Raiders NFL stadium in Las Vegas to the city's iconic Strip could force the Nevada DOT to redesign a planned $200 million reconstruction project planned for that same area, according to the Las Vegas Sun.
- The department currently plans to rebuild Interstate 15 at the Tropicana Avenue interchange near the T-Mobile Arena to accommodate the significant increase in pedestrian and vehicular traffic since the highway was originally constructed in the 1960s. Plans for two high-occupancy vehicle ramps planned for nearby overpasses — Hacienda Avenue and Harmon Avenue — were in the works before the Raiders decided to relocate to Las Vegas, but Nevada DOT director Rudy Malfabon told the Sun that they might have to be built elsewhere.
- For now, the required environmental study for the interchange portion of the work will continue, and state transportation officials are working with the Raiders, casino owners and others impacted by the project to figure out the best course of action for the HOV lanes. Once the project is complete and restrictive bridge supports have been altered, Malfabon said that the department could look at adding additional lanes to some sections of I-15.
The I-15 Tropicana interchange project and HOV lanes are just a small portion of what the Nevada DOT has planned for the area around the stadium. Last year, when the Raiders deal was still in the "maybe" stage, department officials and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval said the state would spend about $900 million on a series of improvement near the venue's site whether or not the team decided to move to Las Vegas. At the time, officials said the work could include new highway interchanges, carpool lanes and direct access ramps.
The department pointed out that the work had been planned for some time and if the Raiders did move forward with their stadium that it would simply re-prioritize the work to better accommodate the increased traffic in the area. However, the massive overhaul isn't likely to receive funding until 2020 or 2021, which means work will not likely begin until after the Raiders are already playing in Las Vegas.
One event that probably has given the team and its backers some measure of relief is that former Republican candidate for governor Dan Schwartz, also the current state treasurer and vocal critic of state lawmakers' decision to help pay for the stadium, lost in the party's June primary. Schwartz said that if he were to win the governor's race, he would do his best to block funding for road improvements around the stadium unless the team returned the $750 million that the state pledged.
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