Under the LV Strip

The Great East/West Divide. Las Vegans have lived on both sides of the "strip" for many years, and for one reason or another, we often need to go to "the other side". In years past this was not much more than a minor annoyance, increased somewhat by also having the railroad and Interstate 15 running parallel. With the increase in both population and tourists, this crossing is thought by some to be more daunting than the journey of the pioneers that first crossed this desert. While this may be somewhat of an exaggeration, east/west traffic has become a problem. There are only 3 main streets that cross the valley. (Some local's might not agree, but DI?? much of it residential, Spring Mtn/Twain?? same, plus the little matter that it ends at the Mall). This makes for a lot of traffic at the 3 main cross streets. The problem was nicely solved on Tropicana by the addition of 4 pedestrian bridges.

However the worst still remains. From the tourist's viewpoint, crossing the strip at Flamingo Road is a pain. The wait for the light seems eternal, and many swear that the "DON'T WALK" starts flashing before they can take their first step. Crowds gather at the intersection waiting for the complex system to give them "their turn". Meanwhile from the local motorist's point of view the intersection is: guess what? ...a pain! Tired of the endless wait, tourists spill into the street, making it difficult to drive safely past or make a turn.

The idea of bridges has of course been discussed, however the $billion plus Bellagio Hotel is being built on the corner, and in order to keep the view unobstructed, Steve Wynn asked for tunnels under the strip. Although much more expensive, he got two other hotels to chip in and more or less pay the difference. It was announced today that the county would go along with the idea. Several other approvals are needed, but it appears that construction may start as early as March. The cost of clearing up the congestion? $23 million. The tunnels will cross the intersection in an X pattern. And in the true entrepreneurial spirit of Las Vegas, there is already talk of renting retail space in the tunnels. One more place to pick up a T-shirt for the friends and relatives back home?

Please send your comments, suggestions or questions to me at jim-l@ix.netcom.com

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