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Boulder City bypass could open in late 2017

One door closes, and another one opens for the Boulder City bypass. A fuel-tax bill passed in the state Legislature would fund the second phase of the bypass, according to Fred Ohene, assistant general manager for the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada.

With that funding, Ohene said the bypass would be finished by late 2017.

Assembly Bill 413 allows the Clark County Commission to index the county’s per-gallon gas tax to inflation, which would increase the tax 3 cents per year until 2016.

Commissioners are scheduled to have their first discussion on the proposal Tuesday, with the gas-tax ordinance possibly approved as early as Sept. 3, Ohene said.

The Transportation Commission is expecting to raise $700 million-$800 million in bonds for 183 road and highway projects from the tax, with $230 million targeted for second phase of the bypass, which transportation officials are calling Interstate 11.

Ohene said the Transportation Commission is preparing documents needed to bid the project for construction to start next year in anticipation of the County Commission approving the fuel tax.

Construction cost of the 12-mile second phase is estimated at $280 million to $300 million, Ohene said.

Former County Commissioner Bruce Woodbury, a Transportation Commission consultant on the project, said the fuel-tax is needed to build the bypass.

“This is probably the only realistic opportunity to see a Boulder City bypass, this phase of Interstate 11 funded, in the next two or three decades,” Woodbury said.

Although the fuel-tax funding was introduced, the toll-road funding option was declared dead by state Sen. Joe Hardy, who pushed the idea through the 2011 Legislature.

A study this year showed only 25 percent of the road’s construction cost would be covered by the toll road .

“I’ve been in the trenches with (tolling),” Hardy said. “It won’t work and therefore we need to move on.”

Ohene said the no-toll decision was also because of push-back from the private companies who would have funded the project, construction companies and the trucking industry.

Tuesday’s discussion came a day after the state Transportation Department released a draft of the I-11 justification . The 150-page document, available at i11study.com, is open for public comment through July 26, transportation spokesman Damon Hodge said Monday.

The study looks at the need for I-11, not only between Las Vegas and Phoenix, but from Mexico to Canada.

“The population of the western United States is rapidly growing, global trade is expanding and transportation infrastructure is reaching capacity and is not expected to sustain future growth,” Hodge said.

The Federal Highway Administration designated the bypass, which is part of a larger proposed interstate corridor between Phoenix and Las Vegas, part of the proposed I-11 federal highway project.

One finding was congestion is expected to increase for Boulder City on U.S. Highway 93, the 287 miles of road connecting Las Vegas and Phoenix.

The justification report is part of a $2.5 million, two-year I-11 and Intermountain West Corridor Viability Study led by the Nevada and Arizona Transportation departments . The draft states that the corridor “will present new opportunities for travel, trade, tourism and economic development.”

The justification study should be finalized in September. The viability study is schedule to be completed in early 2014.

Although initially connecting Las Vegas and Phoenix, I-11 could expand north to Canada and south to Mexico.

Transportation Department updates on the I-11 loop are at bouldercitybypass.com.

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