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Speed limit on Charleston may be reduced to 35 mph

A busy stretch of Charleston Boulevard is set to see a reduced speed limit as Las Vegas officials look at the future of the area.

A vote by the Las Vegas City Council on Wednesday would lower the speed limit on the 0.65-mile portion of Charleston between Rancho Drive and Martin Luther King Boulevard from 45 mph to 35 mph. The city’s parking and traffic commission approved the reduction at an August meeting.

The area is in the middle of the Las Vegas Medical District where the University Medical Center and other medical facilities are located and the new UNLV School of Medicine medical education building is being constructed. The area is already a pedestrian-heavy corridor, with that likely to increase once the new UNLV facility opens next fall. The university’s temporary facility also is located in the study area.

Nevada Department of Transportation crash data shows that 39,500 motorists drove the stretch of Charleston between Rancho and Martin Luther King daily in 2019.

NDOT data also shows that over a five-year period — 2014-2018 — there were 278 crashes in the subject area, resulting in 300 injuries and one fatality.

To increase safety for all road users, the city plans to transform that portion of Charleston into a “complete street” layout.

Upgrades tied to that include widening sidewalks in the area to between 10 and 15 feet, dedicated bicycle lanes, narrower vehicle travel lanes and wider and landscaped medians.

The report to the council promoting the changes states the additions fit into the city’s plans to implement high-capacity transit along the Charleston corridor.

“The changes proposed to the corridor speed limit promote safe mobility and accessibility for all transportation system users as well as support the City’s imminent and long-range planning to increase the multimodal presence on Charleston Blvd,” the council’s backup material states.

The speed limit before and after the designated stretch varies with eastbound Charleston having a posted speed limit of 45 mph from Rancho to Shadow Lane. From there it is reduced to 35 mph between Martin Luther King and Interstate 15.

Immediately east of Martin Luther King and the I-15, the speed limit is 35 mph along a 2.5-mile portion to Fremont Street. The speed limit on Charleston west of Rancho is 45 mph for nine miles to the 215 Beltway.

Project Neon, a years-long massive road improvement project, added a “slip ramp” from eastbound Charleston to Martin Luther King in 2019, creating a previously unavailable access point between the two roads.

The single-lane ramp starts just as motorists heading east pass through the Shadow Lane intersection near the UNLV School of Medicine and provides access to both north and south Martin Luther King. Traffic traveling on Martin Luther King cannot use the ramp to access Charleston.

The complete street project for the stretch of Charleston Boulevard is expected to be advertised to contractors at the start of next year and see construction complete in mid-2023.

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter. Send questions and comments to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com.