Updated September 5, 2022 - 1:33 pm
Odds are that as you read this a line of vehicles up to 20 miles long is backed up on Interstate 15 starting somewhere near the California-Nevada stateline near Jean or even further south.
This occurrence, of course, has been a mainstay on I-15 following holiday weekends in Las Vegas as long as memory serves.
The issue is largely tied to I-15 southbound narrowing from three travel lanes to two near the Nevada-California border.
Over 40 million people visit Las Vegas annually, with about 25 percent of those traveling between Southern California and Nevada. The volume of motorists can severely extend travel times on I-15 southbound on Sundays and Mondays, making the usually 4½ hour drive between Las Vegas and Los Angeles take as long as 10 hours on the busiest holidays.
Help to alleviate some of the pain is already underway.
A $12 million project is underway to restripe and repave the shoulder, allowing traffic to utilize it as a third lane during times of high traffic like Labor Day.
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak and California Gov. Gavin Newsome announced the project last December at a joint press conference near the border of the two states.
The improvement project on both the Nevada and California sides of I-15 southbound began Aug. 22 and is slated to wrap up later this fall, according to Nevada Department of Transportation spokeswoman Rosa Mendez.
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman has advocated widening the interstate between Southern Nevada and Los Angeles. She called the current project a “Band-Aid” and wants to see more done.
“I guess that 5 miles of 113 is better than nothing,” she said in a text message. “For a community dependent upon tourism with a good portion of it coming in from California, it’s unfathomable that this Band-Aid is sufficing for a tourniquet. Easy, safe.”
To further help with traffic flow, NDOT is also installing a ramp meter and directional signage at the Primm Boulevard onramp to I-15 southbound. The project, which includes adding flashing beacon signs and intelligent transportation system equipment, is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Motorists should expect delays in the area as work is carried out.
“We know this is a critical travel corridor between California and Nevada, and we are actively taking steps to minimize traffic impacts,” Mendez said.
“As the project progresses, the public can expect temporary lane closures on southbound I-15 as well as full ramp closures at Primm. Ramp closures will be limited to one lane at any time and will be during overnight hours unless work scope mandates daytime hours. Project work will be conducted Monday through Friday during nighttime hours with one southbound lane open at all times on the I-15.”
This was evident Friday morning when the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada issued a traffic alert for the area as Labor Day weekend travel kicked off. The RTC warned that delays were expected due to roadwork on I-15 after Primm Boulevard, but that work wrapped up by mid morning.
Earlier in the week, traffic was backed up on I-15 southbound as crews conducted emergency repairs on a bridge south of Nipton Road in Mountain Pass that was damaged due to floods during storms last week.
The good news is that road crews won’t be working over the holiday weekend.
“There will be no work taking place during the Labor Day weekend,” Mendez said. “Crews will resume work the evening of Tuesday, Sept. 6th.”
So if all goes as planned and the additional lane open during high traffic times plays it part, maybe next year there won’t be as much labor involved while driving between Nevada and Southern California during Labor Day weekend.