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Fed up with I-15 traffic at state line, Las Vegas mayor calls for action by California officials

<i>KVVU</i><br/>Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman wants assistance from California to fix an I-15 bottleneck situation near the state line.
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman wants assistance from California to fix an I-15 bottleneck situation near the state line.

By Maddie White

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    LAS VEGAS, Nevada (KVVU) — For more than a decade, Las Vegas locals have heard about a high-speed rail line for ushering Californians to and from Las Vegas.

The pandemic caused even more delays; the latest company behind the project announced recently it’ll wait until next year just to fund it.

Meanwhile, Californians keep pouring into Las Vegas, and vehicle traffic seems as bad as ever at the state line on weekends. It’s an issue wherein Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman is calling for change.

Goodman said the need is dire for California to put money into widening Interstate 15 from Barstow to the Nevada state line.

“Oh, without question,” said Goodman about whether or not the traffic is a tourism deterrent.

Drivers often wait seven hours or more in the traffic on Fridays and Sundays, and it routinely backs up at least 10 to 15 miles. With Las Vegas operating to near pre-pandemic levels, it doesn’t appear fewer cars will be on the route any time soon.

“The volume is trending upward,” said Tony Illia, spokesman for the Nevada Department of Transportation.

The traffic is even causing desperate drivers to go to unsafe lengths. Nevada Highway Patrol ticketed 80 drivers for driving on the shoulder or off-road on Memorial Day weekend, and those are just the ones who got caught.

NDOT points the blame for the back-up on California.

“The issue really lays with capacity on the California side, where lanes squeeze down,” said Illia.

On the Nevada side, three lanes exist, but that road minimizes to just two lanes once the interstate crosses into California.

“They’re really crippling everybody,” Goodman said.

She expressed frustration with the apparent lack of attention on the issue.

“This has been a 10-year effort,” Goodman said. “We need to make that happen. But of course it’s California’s side, so all we can be doing is with our director of NDOT, the Nevada Department of Transportation, is try to work with Caltrans to tell them, ‘You don’t care about your tourists coming to Las Vegas, but you sure care about the freight moving to the rest of the country.'”

Goodman added that she’d like any Californians to be involved, to “put the pressure on their political structure.”

She’s trying to show California officials that their freight lines are being clogged.

“To move the freight out of Long Beach, San Diego and L.A.,” Goodman said. “And that’s a reason enough for California, with the funds that they get from taking those stockpiles and moving them across country.”

Goodman also said Las Vegas locals could help.

“Ask their representatives to be vocal to the California government influence there, and to do as much as they can encourage this. But they’re not gonna get anything on it if they don’t satisfy the bigger picture,” she said. “We will continue to work to have California understand the issues they’re doing. Really this is no brainer. This is moving all that stuff in your harbors, they need it back east and in the central part of the country, and they’re gonna do nothing but make money while doing it.”

Caltrans did not respond to requests for an interview.

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