Nevada needs better roads to grow economy | NevadaAppeal.com

Nevada needs better roads to grow economy

CRISTINA SILVA
Associated Press

LAS VEGAS – Nevada must overhaul its highways around Las Vegas, Reno and the Hoover Dam if the state wants to grow its economy, according to a national transportation report released Wednesday.

In all, the Silver State must begin 31 new projects to grow and modernize its highways if Nevada wants to become an attractive place for businesses and residents, said TRIP policy director Frank Moretti. He said Nevada must also improve its public transit and traffic management systems.

The findings are part of a new report titled “The Top 40 Surface Transportation Projects to Support Economic Growth in Nevada.”

Moretti joined officials from the Nevada Department of Transportation and the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada at an unveiling of the report on Wednesday in Las Vegas.

Nevada has been struggling to build more roads to accommodate the state’s record growth in the past decade. Nevada had the fastest growing population in the nation from 2000 to 2010.

But proposed transportation projects are expensive and the state is facing a budget shortfall of at least

$1.6 billion. The TRIP report does not address Nevada’s funding crisis. State transportation officials have suggested adding tolls to new highway projects to pay for construction.

The report calls for widening Interstate 15 in Clark County, home to Las Vegas, and extending Interstate 580 in Washoe County, where Reno is the largest city.

Near the Hoover Dam, U.S. 93/95 improvements must include the construction of a highway bypass around congestion in Boulder City, the report said.

“We’ve been trying to play catch-up for decades,” said Jacob Snow, general manager of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada.

TRIP officials say the proposed changes would increase travel speeds, reduce vehicle crashes, create jobs and improve mobility for residents who don’t drive, among other benefits.

“Nevada can’t get where it wants to go – in both a literal and an economic sense – without an efficient transportation system,” Executive Director Will Wilkins said in a statement. “It is critical that Nevada’s transportation system is adequately funded at the local, state and federal level. Thousands of jobs and the state’s economic well-being are riding on it.”