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Nevada, California governors plan a fix for I-15 congestion

Steve Marcus

Traffic heads southbound on I-15 near Sunset Road Sunday, July 25, 2021.

Updated 9 minutes ago

A five-mile stretch of Interstate 15 between the Nevada-California border and Barstow, Calif., will be temporarily expanded with hopes of easing traffic congestion, officials said today.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak and California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a joint statement announcing the expansion of the highway, which will use the shoulder on the southbound route into California as a part-time third lane during peak travel periods.

The $12 million project will be completed by the summer of 2022, Sisolak’s office said. It will be funded by California State Highway Account resources, taking the five-mile segment between the Nevada border and the California Department of Food and Agriculture station where the majority of the congestion occurs briefly to three lanes.

“I appreciate Governor Newsom and California’s willingness to work together on this critical issue,” Sisolak said in a statement. “Annually, more than 11 million Las Vegas visitors drive in and out of town on I-15 and this is a major step forward while we continue to collaborate and work toward more permanent solutions.”

With visitors heading back to California on Sunday and Monday, the average travel time is between three and five hours on the 113 miles from stateline and Barstow, Sisolak’s office said. About 20% of the 42 million visitors to Las Vegas in 2019 came from Southern California.

“This five-mile stretch of highway is a critical piece of infrastructure for not only our two states, but for the whole country. However, the hours of traffic deters tourism and goods movement,” Newsom said in a statement. “While this is just a temporary solution, the expansion is crucial for continued economic health and resilience in the region and beyond. I thank Governor Sisolak for his continued focus and partnership on this and other shared priorities for Californians and Nevadans.” 

The announcement drew praise for Las Vegas tourism officials.

“This initiative is an important first step that will begin to improve the experience of the 10 million visitors to Las Vegas who use this corridor. We know this will be exciting news celebrated by all who drive I-15 during peak travel times,” said Steve Hill, CEO and president of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, in a statement. 

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