US 95 Northwest Corridor Improvements Add Capacity and Safety Near Las Vegas
Responding to Rapid Growth: Nevada DOT Aims to Alleviate Las Vegas Congestion with $500M US 95 Northwest Corridor Improvements
As Las Vegas continues to grow, its road system requires capacity upgrades to alleviate congestion. The more than $500 million, multiphase, 13-mile U.S. 95 Northwest Corridor Improvements Project will address resident and commerce needs.
“The project is about increasing safety and improving mobility in response to rapid growth and development over the last several years,” says Jenica Keller, Senior Project Manager for the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT).
The number of people living in Las Vegas doubled from 2000 to 2017, which led to more vehicles on the road and congestion. About 52,000 vehicles travel the corridor northwest of the city daily, with an expected increase to 112,000 vehicles per day by 2038.
With this project, “we are trying to be proactive instead of reactive,” Keller says.
The corridor project will add a general purpose lane in each direction of U.S. 95 from Washington Avenue to Kyle Canyon Road, add interchanges for greater accessibility and upgrade stormwater systems. Additionally, a high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane will be added from Washington Avenue to Durango Drive including a direct access ramp at Elkhorn Road.
Crews also will install traffic cameras, emergency vehicle detectors, wrong-way driver alerts and dynamic message signs. Little right of way was needed for the project, which keeps the cost down, Keller reports.
NDOT has held several meetings with the community and informed them about the progress and plans. People can sign up for email updates by visiting the project’s website, us95nw.com.
The $50 million phase four was completed in 2011, and the $82 million, phase one was finished in 2013. The $37 million phase 2A, construction of the HOV lanes, wrapped up in 2015 and the $47 million phase 3A completed in 2017. Capriati Construction of Henderson, Nevada completed phases 1 and 4. Las Vegas Paving has been involved in 2A and 3A. Las Vegas Paving and Project Manager Darren Keser have been working on the corridor for eight years.
“We have a lot of great men and women working on this project and we have built an outstanding relationship with NDOT,” Keser says. “I am proud of the relationship between the companies and people out here.”
Construction began on this $78 million phase 2B/5 in early 2018. Federal, state, and local money funded this phase of the urban widening project.
The combined phase 2B/5 will improve U.S. 95 between Durango Drive and Kyle Canyon Road, adding a lane in each direction; add HOV ramps at Elkhorn Road; and construct a diverging diamond interchange at Kyle Canyon Road, which is an entry to Mount Charleston, a popular outdoor recreational area.
“The diverging diamond interchange has a reduced footprint and the efficiency of that design and operation will improve access to the area,” Keller says.
This phase also included a large flood control element, involving construction of 11,200 feet of 20-foot by 7-foot precast concrete culverts for storm drainage, using special hydraulic cranes and forklifts with a long reach, and 400 feet of open channel between the Centennial Bowl and Grand Teton Drive for the Clark County Regional Flood Control District. NDOT worked closely with officials from the Clark County and the City of Las Vegas.
“The partnerships and relationships that have been built between the entities are an example of government working together and doing the right thing,” Keller says.
Las Vegas Paving received the $64.6 million contract. The work includes construction of temporary lanes to maintain traffic flow. Two lanes are open in each direction during the day, and at night, contractors can close an additional lane, leaving one lane open for traffic.
All personnel received desert tortoise training, and fencing was installed before work began. The desert tortoise lives in the rural area near Mount Charleston and is a threatened species. Also on an environmental note, NDOT has removed some cacti and other plants and will replant them at the end of the job.
Crews excavated 695,000 cubic yards of dirt on 2B/5. This phase of the project has consumed 34,292 cubic yards of concrete and 3,361 tons of steel. Las Vegas Paving used equipment with GPS systems for accuracy and speed of construction.
NDOT expects completion of phase 2B/5 this summer.
Phase 3C, a $73 million project, will add three more high-speed, free-flow system-to-system ramps at U.S. 95 and CC 215, which is referred to as the Centennial Bowl. In the past, drivers had to get off the freeway onto surface streets to make the connection or stop at several signal controlled intersections.
“We are building an interchange from scratch with direct-connect flyovers,” says NDOT Spokesperson Tony Illia. “There are some pretty tricky bridge constructions.”
This phase includes construction of eastbound CC 215 to southbound U.S. 95, southbound U.S. 95 to eastbound CC 215, and northbound U.S. 95 to westbound CC 215. This last ramp, a 75-foot-tall by 39-foot-wide post-tensioned, poured-in-place concrete box girder structure will measure 2,635 feet long, will carry two lanes of traffic, and is the second longest structure in the state. Once the full interchange is built, there will be 18 bridges.
“Those types of bridges provide a better pallet for the architectural elements, which have been fun to work with and neat,” Keller says. “And we have had positive feedback from the community.”
Las Vegas Paving received the $61.5 million construction contract. The company’s subcontractor Hayward-Baker is using a special drill rig with 10-foot diameter drill bits to drill the shafts for the bridges. The drilled shafts reach 75 feet to 80 feet, Keser says. The soil in the area can fluctuate from soft to caliche/rock. Sometimes it is difficult to penetrate.
The work involves 400,000 cubic yards of dirt work, 28,520 tons of asphalt paving and 9,200 square yards of concrete paving. The project also will consume 5.2 million pounds of reinforcing steel.
Current vehicle counts are 107,500 vehicles per day, and those numbers are expected to increase by 49 percent to 160,000 vehicles daily by 2036. This phase will not have HOV lanes, but was designed to allow for direct connects to the HOV lanes at a later date.
Completion of Phase 3C is expected in winter 2020.
The final phase of the Centennial Bowl, Phase 3D, has an estimated cost of $163 million and will start once funding is identified. This phase will include a multiuse trail. If funding falls into place, the U.S. 95 Northwest Corridor Improvements Project should finish in 2024.
Photos courtesy of Nevada Department of Transportation