It’s not every day that city officials encourage residents to play on the freeway, but that’s what happened Saturday, June 2, when a portion of Interstate 11 was opened to locals for a preview.
Boulder City Day invited community members to walk or bicycle on the interstate before it opens to traffic, which Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada expects in the first week of August. They saw the stretch between Buchanan Boulevard and an overlook to Lake Mead.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said JoElla Wisham, who was accompanied by friends Janet Denning and Sandy Greer for the 5K walk portion.
The lifelong resident said she also walked on the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge before it opened to traffic.
Denning said she was curious about how I-11 affected the old motorcycle trails in the desert after watching construction from afar.
“They’ve done a great job,” Greer said.
Mayor Rod Woodbury said the day was set aside for people to see and experience the new interstate and enjoy one another’s company without the formality of speeches.
“I wanted everyone to feel like this was their project,” he said. “It looks like a great turnout.”
Susan Barros in the public works department said 335 participants showed up, the majority on bicycles.
“It’s a beautiful morning to be out on the interstate,” Community Development Director Michael Mays said as he prepared to head out on his bicycle.
“I’m anxious for this thing to open, and I wanted to see it,” said Steve Pinkerton of Boulder City, who biked the route with his wife, Karen.
She said they look forward to the interstate taking passing traffic out of town.
Karen Judson, who rode the interstate with her husband, David, said making it to the overlook was the best part of the ride, as well as “being the first one on the road before it opens.”
“There’s been a long buildup and anticipation,” David Judson said. “I’m excited about I-11. … I don’t think it’s going to kill our town.”
Denning, Greer and Wisham said they are waiting to see how the bypass will affect the community but were in favor of it from the start when it was proposed decades ago.
Mark Anthony of Henderson, a Las Vegas tour guide and host of “The Vegas Tourist” podcast, said he loves Boulder City and participated in the walk to see what the new interstate looks like.
“I think it will be good for tourism. … This is one of those things that’s needed,” he said. “It’s a double-edged sword. … If the businesses do it right, this is going to have that effect where people say, ‘There’s something over there; I have to go see.’ It’s that mixed feeling of we won’t know until it happens. I’m hopeful for Boulder City.”
Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.
Boulder City Review staff writer Celia Shortt contributed to this report.