We all know that with the opening of the new bridge across the Colorado River, a traffic nightmare has been created on the highways that pass through Boulder City. For many years, Mayor Tobler, State Senator Hardy, former County Commissioner Woodbury, and others in Boulder City have predicted this disaster and have called upon state and federal officials to take the necessary steps to prevent it.
Even though these congested roads are within our city limits, they are part of the interstate highway system and controlled by NDOT and the Federal Highway Administration. These state and federal agencies have had many years to plan for the anticipated traffic bottlenecks, but only superficial modifications at the Buchanan intersection in Boulder City were implemented. As a result, the following steps, which involve complex state and federal legal issues, must now be pursued:
1. As requested by Mayor Tobler, the FHWA should declare an emergency due to the excessive level of traffic congestion and accidents, then redirect truck traffic to US 95 via Laughlin.
2. NDOT must add additional travel lanes on US 93 near the Hacienda Hotel, which should have been accomplished before the bridge opened. Believe it or not, NDOT has not even begun the lengthy environmental review process for such improvements. This could take several years unless NDOT immediately seeks and obtains a categorical exclusion from this requirement from the FHWA.
3. The 2011 Nevada Legislature should finally pass Sen. Hardy’s bill to authorize a public-private partnership and accelerate the funding of a “Boulder City Bypass,” which should instead be referred to as “the Interstate 11 Bypass” to become eligible for federal funding, since it is obviously needed for the general transportation network, not just for Boulder City.