Motorists looking to access the Strip from Interstate 15 are about to get a new option. Or, at least a partial one.
Work began last week on a half interchange from I-15 southbound to the Harmon Avenue bridge, as part of the $305 million I-15/Tropicana Avenue interchange project.
Drivers will only be able to access Harmon from I-15 southbound and those traveling on Harmon will only be able to enter the freeway on its northbound lanes. Harmon has long been a local favorite to access the Strip, around the Cosmopolitan/Aria area, without much of the traffic seen on other east-west access points such as Tropicana, Flamingo or Spring Mountain roads.
A new connection with Valley View Boulevard in 2020 enhanced the connection even more, with the I-15 interchange the next phase of Harmon’s role in the Resort Corridor’s transportation system.
“The new HOV half-interchange on the south side of Harmon Avenue should take pressure off Tropicana and Flamingo by giving drivers another option to access the Las Vegas Strip,” Nevada Department of Transportation spokesman Justin Hopkins said. It should also help with easing traffic in and out of major events at Allegiant Stadium and T-Mobile Arena, he added.
The choice to build a half interchange at Harmon opposed to a full interchange there or elsewhere along I-15 came after careful deliberation by NDOT.
“There were several different plans considered for new interchanges as part of this project, including exploring adding a half interchange on the south side of Hacienda,” Hopkins said. “There was some consideration given to making Harmon a full interchange, but our analysis showed Harmon does not have the capacity to handle a full interchange. Harmon is heavily constricted with hotels abutting the right-of-way on the east side and residences abutting the right-of-way on the west side, making the acquisition of land to widen Harmon too impactful and therefore unreasonable.”
Crews will not begin the teardown of the south portion of the Tropicana bridge over I-15 until the half interchange is open to traffic. The north half of the Tropicana bridge was torn down in January as part of the “Dropicana” phase of the I-15-Tropicana project.
The first traffic impacts associated with the Harmon half interchange portion of the project began last week and will continue through next month.
Starting on Monday and running through April 20, I-15 northbound will be down to four lanes in each direction between Tropicana and Flamingo. Wednesday I-15 southbound will go down to three lanes overnight between Harmon Avenue and Flamingo Road. The same lane restrictions were seen a week prior on the same stretch of I-15.
Plans call for the new half interchange to be complete in the fall, giving all drivers the new access point. Once the I-15/Tropicana interchange project is complete in 2025, those who can access Harmon will change.
“Eventually, that half interchange will be HOV-only,” Hopkins noted.
Another part of the multipronged I-15/Tropicana project is the addition of 10 new active traffic management signs.
The dynamic messaging signs will be similar to the ones added to I-15 during Project Neon and will be useful to direct traffic on the freeway during events at Allegiant Stadium.
Five of the signs will be added to I-15 northbound and southbound between Warm Springs and Russell roads.
To install those signs the HOV lanes on both sides of I-15 will be shuttered for a month in July.
Additional overnight lane closures will occur for several months tied the installation of the signs.
There are also five full closures of I-15 northbound and five full closures of I-15 southbound planned to safely hang the signs over the freeway.
Contact Mick Akers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.
Article written by Mick Akers #ReviewJournal