A few years ago, the city completed a beautification project along Nevada Way extending east from Buchanan Boulevard through our old town historic district. That project included a new welcome archway, landscaping upgrades and utility replacements, among other improvements.
However, nothing west of Buchanan was included. Consequently, that stretch of our business district sometimes quite naturally feels like Boulder City’s forgotten stepchild. Moreover, businesses along Nevada Highway’s western entrance to town are subject to heavy truck traffic, higher speed limits and other circumstances that make foot and bicycle traffic unsafe and virtually nonexistent. Furthermore, compared to other businesses in Boulder City, many of those highway businesses are much more dependent on traffic counts and stand to lose the most when the Interstate 11 bypass opens in 2018.
With those issues in mind, I met with City Manager Dave Fraser, Public Works Director Scott Hansen and representatives Fred Ohene and Mike Hand of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada last year to explore the feasibility of a Nevada Highway revitalization project. My initial vision was a project extending from Buchanan Boulevard to Veterans Memorial Drive and eventually all the way to Railroad Pass.
I hoped that we could capitalize on the many opportunities that I-11 will present, including the fact that speeds can much more easily be reduced when commercial vehicles are diverted to I-11. I was also hopeful that the RTC could provide necessary funding or at least point us in the right direction.
Our meeting was a resounding success. In fact, the RTC not only embraced our ideas and provided funding for initial design work, it also helped expand our vision to an even broader scope, including not just the portion of U.S. Highway 93/Nevada Highway from Railroad Pass to Buchanan but also the lakeside portion of U.S. 93 from Buchanan down to Pacifica Way. As you probably know, all of this will be renamed Boulder City Parkway once I-11 opens.
The result is what’s now known as the Boulder City Parkway Complete Street Project. The complete streets concept envisions a balance of safety and mobility for everyone using roadways, including not just motorists but also pedestrians and cyclists. Complete streets generally include features like wider sidewalks, dedicated bicycle lanes, bus turnouts, intersection improvements, safer pedestrian and bike crossings, and median upgrades.
The National Complete Streets Coalition has identified some target complete street benefits: improved safety and mobility, congestion relief and increased road capacity, improved health by promoting physical activity and opportunities to use alternate modes of transportation, economic growth by creating more inviting communities and lower transportation costs by providing more transit options. If properly designed and constructed, complete streets can also provide other incidental benefits, such as improved air quality.
The city is currently working with CA Group Inc. to develop the concept and design plans for the Boulder City Parkway Complete Street Project. Those are anticipated to include not only significant traffic improvements but also safer pedestrian and bicycle crossings at Veterans Memorial Drive, Gingerwood Street, Yucca Street and Mesquite Street. Input from stakeholders and community members will be solicited along the way, resulting in an alternative analysis report that will ultimately be transformed into a final design if the project moves forward.
To be clear, the project is still very much in its infancy, the city having thus far only obtained funding to design the reach from Gingerwood Street to Buchanan Boulevard. So in order for the project to actually become a reality, funding to design the remaining stretches of the project, as well as funding to actually construct it, still needs to be secured.
Additionally, the city will have to secure its own funding for amenities like landscaping and benches. However, passage of the fuel revenue indexing ballot question (State Question No. 5) last November made additional funding for the remainder of the project’s roadway improvements much more likely. So I’m optimistic that if we divide the project into prioritized phases and don’t bite off more than we can chew at once, the necessary funding will become available in the not-too-distant future.
Thank you for your continued support as we strive to make Boulder City a more complete, connected and inviting place to live and visit.
For more information on the benefits of complete streets, please visit the RTC’s web page at http://bit.ly/2i7LeoX.
Rod Woodbury is mayor of Boulder City. He has been serving on the City Council since 2011 and is the president and managing shareholder of his law firm, Woodbury Law.