Las Vegas Commission Presents Ambitious $12 Billion Transportation Plan
For such a thriving tourist destination, it could be seen as unusual that Las Vegas lacks more of a mass transit connection from its airport to the Strip — but a group of local leaders are aiming to change that and make other augmentations to local transportation with an ambitious multi-decade, multi-billion-dollar plan, the Associated Press reported.
The Transportation Investment Business Plan was forged by the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, a group of transit officials, tourism leaders, taxi owners and hoteliers assembled two years ago by the CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, the AP said.
The plan would be executed over a span of 30 years at a cost exceeding $12 billion, and includes proposals for widening sidewalks, adding to the number of pedestrian bridges that crisscross the strip constructing extra monorail stops and, for a finale, building a light rail route linking the airport to downtown, according to the AP.
"We can continue to pursue the status quo, as we have historically," the plan states. “But that would mean severe consequences to the area's tourist-driven economy that competes with destinations already connecting their airports and city centers with mass transit.”
But the AP notes costs on top of that initial $12 billion, including inflation through the year 2046, building and maintaining the light rail and other necessary financial obligations — making the price of this transportation project closer to $20 billion. Though consultant Jeremy Aguero, a Las Vegas-based economic analyst and one of the plan's co-creators, told the news agency that this is a relatively small outlay compared to the region’s $95 billion tourist-driven economy.
However, don’t make your ticket inquiries yet. Transit planning consultant David Knowles, hired to assist with the plan, told the AP that planning alone for the light rail will take place through 2022, and then it will be another five years until the design is finalized. He noted that light rail systems can take 12 years to build.
The Transportation Investment Business Plan has two months of public review before a March vote by the Regional Transportation Commission, the AP said, and then the various parts of the plan can be integrated into pertinent budget.
Linking the Las Vegas Strip and McCarran International Airport is not a new discussion, the AP said.
"It just blows me away that we still have not moved forward on that," Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said at a meeting this week when the plan was brought up, per the AP.
The Las Vegas Monorail opened with much promise in 2005, touted in particular by then MGM Mirage Chairman Terry Lanni, according to the AP. But financial hardship led to the transportation system declaring bankruptcy in 2010, and instead of going to the airport or downtown as planned, it merely links several hotels with the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Without a more robust mass transit system, staging a big event in the city can be chaotic. CES, the annual consumer electronics show that had more than 176,000 attendees last year, involved a massive number of hailed taxi-cabs at the airport and 360 shuttle buses moving people between conventions centers and hotels, which was a huge expense for organizers, the AP said — even with attendees making 147,736 rides on the monorail.
"You have three of the largest convention centers and so many hotel rooms," Karen Chupka, senior vice president with CES said to the AP. "It only makes sense that you should have a world-class transportation system."
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