SNS Newsletter – July 2019

  Reimagining Boulder Highway

Safety improvements, multimodal mobility enhancements identified as priorities 

A bolder roadway

The world around Boulder Highway has changed drastically since it was constructed in 1931. But the roadway itself hasn’t quite kept up with the times.

That should soon be changing.

A 15-mile stretch of Boulder Highway from Wagonwheel Drive in Henderson to Charleston Boulevard in Las Vegas is currently being studied and “reimagined” in an effort to increase multimodal mobility and improve safety for all users.

Among the changes that can be expected: Wider sidewalks, better lighting, center-running transit, and high-comfort bikes lanes.

The road less traveled

When originally constructed nearly 90 years ago, Boulder Highway was in a mostly rural area and served as the valley’s only freeway, connecting downtown Las Vegas to Boulder City and the Hoover Dam. But the subsequent additions of I-15, US-95 and the 215 Beltway effectively replaced the highway, relegating it to an oversized local street.

Today, more than half of the 10,000 vehicles that use Boulder Highway each day travel less than two miles on the highway as part of their commute.

The corridor now sees heavy pedestrian and bicycling traffic too. But its wide lanes, fast speeds, and lack of lighting and crosswalks – relics from its past – hardly make walking and biking safe. In fact, Boulder Highway is one of the most dangerous roadways in the state for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Nearly 10 percent of all pedestrian deaths in the state since 2006 occurred on Boulder Highway, according to the Nevada Department of Public Safety

Taking it to the streets

Realizing the need to rightsize the roadway and improve safety for all road users, the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) and Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) along with project partners – the City of Henderson, City of Las Vegas, and Clark County – spent the better part of the past two years engaging the community and reimaging Boulder Highway.

Input gathered from businesses, residents, property owners and other members of the community along and near Boulder Highway led to the development of a proposed concept for an improved roadway.

The concept divides the roadway into three sections: a “through realm” flanked on each side by two “pedestrian realms.”

The through realm includes two general-purpose lanes in each direction and designated mass transit lanes in the middle of the roadway. The pedestrian realms feature wider sidewalks and more lighting for pedestrians, dual-running bicycle lanes, and frontage roads for slower-moving traffic looking to access businesses and neighborhoods located off the roadway.

In addition to improving mobility and safety, project partners also hope the redesign helps spur redevelopment along the corridor.

The City of Henderson is particularly well prepared for potential redevelopment. In late 2008, the City of Henderson adopted the Boulder Highway Corridor Investment Strategy, working with RTC to align land use and transportation planning to create a cohesive vision for the corridor.

More recently, the Henderson identified Boulder Highway at the Broadbent-Gibson intersection as one of Southern Nevada Strong’s four opportunity sites. The move solidified Henderson’s commitment to seeing its portion of Boulder Highway transformed into a mixed-use, transit-oriented corridor, starting with the revitalization of the gateway site into a thriving neighborhood center. The current efforts to “reimagine” Boulder Highway will go a long way in supporting the opportunity site redevelopment efforts, enhancing connectivity and spurring new reinvestment in the area.


Henderson has already designated funding to get its portion of the project underway. NDOT also has funding ready for construction.

The road forward

Before implementation begins, the RTC plans to conduct a final round of public engagement along the corridor. Though the agency has already collected XXXX pieces of feedback pertaining to the proposed concept, it wants to give the community one final opportunity to weigh in.

Thus far, 4 out of 5 respondents approve of the overall proposed concept.

A list of remaining community meetings can be found here.

The RTC anticipates taking the plan to its board for approval in September.

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When the new Mesquite Library first opened its doors 11 months ago, close to 4,000 people gathered for the grand opening celebration. And they haven’t stopped showing up.

Since the opening of the new 13,300-square-foot library, which was built across the street from the original library building, attendance and usage skyrocketed.

The number of library cards issued nearly tripled from January 2018 to January 2019. Total visits jumped by 15 percent.

And with nearly three times more square footage than the old library, program and class offerings increased 26 percent, which led to a 90 percent bump in participation.

Library district officials expect an even greater level of fanfare and sustained interest when its newest branch, the 40,000-square-foot East Las Vegas Library, opens Thursday, April 25.

“We’re very excited for this opening,” said Danielle Milam, development and planning director of the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District (LVCCLD). “This is a big deal for the community. The new library is going to be in the heart of a vibrant neighborhood that hasn’t seen much investment the past three decades.”

We don’t library like we used to

The two newest editions to the region’s collection of libraries reflect the shift in how LVCCLD and other forward-thinking library districts view the role they play in a community.

While books and quiet spaces to read remain an important component of LVCCLD services, offering resources and amenities that meet the needs of the local community has become a top priority in recent years.

“Coming out of the recession, we realized we needed to reinvent ourselves,” said Milam. “We needed to be responsive to our local communities and better connect to the community agenda.”

That meant creating flexible library spaces, embracing new technology, and creating a more welcoming and communal environment that emphasized all types of learning.

Both of the new state-of-the-art libraries include teen lounges, family play areas, multipurpose auditoriums, intergenerational “living rooms,” and even cafés with drive-thru windows.

The “Makerspace” at each location provides access to new technology and hosts classes on coding, 3D printing, and computer engineering to build skills for the next generation of tech jobs. At the East Las Vegas branch, the “Makerspace” will also feature a recording studio and DJ lab, and through a partnership with UNLV, is expected to offer classes on robotics, drones, and maybe even virtual reality.

Sur La Table-style cooking classes will be held in a culinary demonstration kitchen at the East Las Vegas branch, which is in close proximity to several of the region’s food deserts.

To help youth and adults find jobs as well as bolster the training needs of local businesses, both locations include One-Stop Career Center services provided by Workforce Connections. This is particularly pertinent in East Las Vegas, where 45 percent of families live below the poverty level and the unemployment rate is in double digits, according to LVCCLD.

Programming and classes will also aim to meet specific needs of each community. For example, at the East Las Vegas branch, which is surrounded by a high concentration of Latinx families, the library will support more than 1,000 programs per year in areas such as early childhood development, nutrition, and English Language instruction, as well as offer after-school homework help and tutoring for students.

All of the new features and offerings were designed based on deep knowledge of community conditions offered by local stakeholders. Area elected officials, civic leaders, businesses, non-profits, residents, and youth leadership groups were all engaged and weighed in during the planning process, according to LVCCLD officials.

Lights, camera, action!

The City of Las Vegas is in the process of planning for its future and is looking for the public to weigh in. The city is updating its master plan, which will serve as a blueprint for the city’s growth and development for the next three decades, and city planning staff are working to get the community to provide input to help shape the plan.

Check out the new ‘Resources’ tab on our website

Savvy users of the Southern Nevada Strong (SNS) website will notice a seemingly small change to the SNS home page menu. You may miss it if you don’t look closely, but the new RESOURCES tab is loaded with useful tools and information related to implementation of the SNS regional plan.

The RESOURCES tab is the new home to several tools, documents and guides that had previously lived in other places on the SNS site. Now under one tab, users will find the following four resources:

  • Community engagement toolkit – Collection of resources including community data maps, worksheets and evaluations guides — for advancing public participation and inclusive decision-making throughout Southern Nevada.
  • Federal grant competitiveness webpage Overview of SNS’s federal grants competitiveness initiative, along with resources and videos.
  • SNS community indicators dashboard – Collection of community-level data that helps support informed decision-making and measures the region’s progress in advancing the goals of the SNS regional plan.
  • Documents library – Repository of SNS-related files and documents, including PDFs of the regional plan, studies and reports, public meeting agendas and minutes, etc.

The reorganization is intended to simplify navigation and access of the SNS site, providing for an inclusive location for all of SNS’s current and future tools for advancing the regional goals and strategies.

News Beyond the Valley

Here are a handful of stories that have caught our attention. Each article highlights how innovative, forward-thinking regional planning, policies, and initiatives can have tangible community impacts.

British Columbia passes law aiming for 100% zero-emission sales by 2040

In a move aimed at removing a major source of air pollution and climate change, the provincial government has put British Columbia on a path to require the sale of all new light-duty cars and trucks to be zero-emission vehicles by the year 2040.


Protected bike lanes are safer for drivers, too

A new comprehensive study of crash and street design data from 12 cities across the country finds that roads with separated and protected bike lanes make both cycling and driving safer.


San Jose’s digital inclusion fund will be the largest in the country

San Jose will bring high-speed internet to 50,000 homes in the next 10 years thanks to the launch of a “Digital Inclusion Fund” funded in part by the fees the city will charge wireless providers to install technology on light poles.


New South Carolina park is furthering equitable development in the deep south

Unity Park is yet another of many city parks around the country that are being built using an equitable development model, which prioritizes meeting the needs of underserved communities through a combination of policies, community programs, and placemaking.


Los Angeles to give students free bus passes

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a program to provide all public school students and community college students with free passes for unlimited downtown bus service.


Building healthy housing through health action plans

A pilot program required community development corporations (CDC) to collaborate with public health professionals to discover — and address — a community’s pressing health issues. What the collaboration uncovered were issues that the participating CDCs hadn’t even considered.