SNS Newsletter – July 2019

Reimagining Boulder Highway

Safety improvements, complete street enhancements identified as priorities 

Conceptual rendering of a proposed redesign of Boulder Highway. Conceptual only; subject to change.
(Courtesy: RTC of Southern Nevada)

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 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.

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 cities of Henderson and 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, separated bicycle lanes, and the option for either linear parks or frontage roads for slower-moving traffic looking to access businesses and neighborhoods located off the roadway.

Conceptual rendering of a proposed redesign of Boulder Highway. The redesign divides the roadway into three sections: a “through realm” and two “pedestrian realms.” The rendering depicts two different options for the pedestrian
realms: One with a linear park (left) and the other with a frontage road (right). Jurisdictions will have the ability to choose whichever option best suits their needs. Conceptual only; subject to change. (Courtesy: RTC of Southern Nevada)

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

Henderson is particularly well-prepared for potential redevelopment along its portion of the corridor. In late 2008, the city 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, Henderson identified Boulder Highway at the Broadbent/Gibson intersection as one of Southern Nevada Strong’s four opportunity sites. And the city’s updated comprehensive plan, Henderson Strong, also identified Boulder Highway as a priority area for reinvestment, complete street improvements, and community development.

Henderson has already identified and 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.

To date, the agency has collected more than 1,900 survey responses pertaining to the proposed concept, resulting in an 80% approval of the concept. However, the RTC and its partners want to give the community one final opportunity to weigh in later this summer.

Events along the corridor are currently being planned and will be listed at rtcsnv.com/boulderhighway when scheduled.

The RTC then hopes to take the plan to its board for approval in September.


Lights, camera, action!

New lighting, protective bollards at bus stops among safety upgrades being made across the transit system

RTC transit shelter on the Las Vegas Strip protected by bollards. (Courtesy: RTC of Southern Nevada)

The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) is working to make riding transit a little safer today and into the future following a handful of safety changes.

Over the past 11 years, the RTC has invested more than $18 million in safety and comfort enhancements at transit stops and shelters throughout Southern Nevada, but it doesn’t end there. Several new safety measures will build upon past efforts.

Improvements focus on three key areas: lighting, surveillance, and transit stop safety enhancements.

LIGHTS!

Over the past few years, the RTC has added lighting to several hundred bus stops across the valley to make transit riders more visible to drivers. And it’s far from finished.

The RTC is working to install new solar lighting at 300 stops that are currently without shelters, and has plans to install at least 200 new slimline shelters – narrower transit shelters generally used where right-of-way space is limited – complete with lighting at transit stops later this year.

Of the 1,670 transit shelters currently at RTC stops, 524 shelters still need lighting.

CAMERA!

The RTC recently completed software installations in all RTC transit vehicles that give law enforcement agencies access to each bus’s video feed, allowing them to see inside RTC transit vehicles in real time. This option gives law enforcement more tools to assess a potential emergency situation and act appropriately.

Another safeguard to ensure rider safety is RTC’s Transit Watch app – a “See Something Say Something” security feature that allows riders to report suspicious, non-emergency incidents and activity directly to the RTC.

ACTION!

The RTC plans to launch a pilot bollard program at 20 non-Strip transit shelters across the region to see how effective the addition of protective bollards are in providing additional safety for transit users.

Protective bollards shield transit users waiting for bus service
on the Las Vegas Strip. (Courtesy: RTC of Southern Nevada)

Safety bollards – generally short steel posts – are a common roadway application designed to create barriers that protect people and property from motor vehicle accidents and other roadway risks. The bollards being considered by the RTC for the pilot are designed to withstand the impact of a 15,000 pound vehicle – the weight of a mid-size U-Haul – traveling at 50 mph.

The selected locations for the bollard pilot study include shelters that have been hit multiple times in recent years as well as locations that experience high ridership and frequent queues.

Installation of the bollards is expected to occur as early as January of next year.

To further protect riders waiting at bus stops, the RTC is continuing efforts to move shelters back a minimum of 5 feet from the roadway wherever possible. To date, more than 1,100 shelters have been pushed back from the roadway. The RTC continues to work with property owners to gain additional right-of-way access to push back more stops.

The safety and comfort enhancements help implement strategies in the Southern Nevada Strong (SNS) Regional Plan that aim to increase transportation choice and develop a modern transportation system in the region.

The upgrades specifically address strategy 1.1.9 in the Increase Transportation Choice section, which states: “Improve rider experience by locating stops away from adjacent travel lanes, offering robust lighting, and making other site considerations that maximize visibility and safety.”

Click here for more details on RTC’s efforts to improve transit safety and comfort in Southern Nevada.


Boulder City Parkway begins complete streets makeover

Conceptual rendering of the complete streets improvements planned for Boulder City Parkway. (Courtesy: Boulder City)

Construction on Boulder City’s latest complete streets project is slated to start this month, promising improved accessibility and safety along Boulder City Parkway for all users of the roadway.

The long awaited improvements will occur between Veterans Memorial Drive and Buchanan Blvd., and will include transit and safety enhancements, utility upgrades, pavement milling and asphalt repairs at select locations.

Better for Business?

Boulder City implemented its first complete streets project on Nevada Way on a small section of roadway between Buchanan Blvd. and Wyoming Street in 2013. According to city officials, business owners on this stretch of road reported an increase in business activity and observed that their businesses improved overall upon completion of the project.

Working with the Boulder City Chamber of Commerce, business owners along Boulder City Parkway advocated for similar complete streets improvements to be implemented on the parkway as well.

Redesigning the road

Design for the project began in 2016 and included significant public outreach, complete with public meetings and numerous interviews with business owners along the corridor.

The majority of stakeholders as well as the general public supported the complete streets improvements, although there was some concern about access to properties due to the proposed addition of center medians.

As a result, the final street design balances new, landscaped medians with ample space for center-turn lanes as well. The addition of landscaped medians is expected to help slow traffic down to posted speeds, the majority of which is 35 mph, making the street safer for alternative transit users.

Forthcoming street improvements include separated, 9.5-foot-wide sidewalks for a safer, more comfortable pedestrian experience, as well as dedicated bike lanes on both sides of the roadway. Improved pedestrian crossings with flashing warning beacons, and pedestrian refuge islands also add to pedestrian comfort and safety in the corridor.

Complete streets
The project aligns with the RTC of Southern Nevada’s Complete Streets Initiative, which seeks to provide a safe and comfortable environment for all transportation modes, and ultimately make Southern Nevada a more sustainable place to live.

Conceptual rendering of the complete streets improvements
planned for Boulder City Parkway. (Courtesy: Boulder City)

The street improvements also furthers implementation of the Southern Nevada Strong (SNS) Regional Plan, addressing strategy 3.2.4 in the Improve Transportation Choice goal: “Promote Complete Streets cross section revisions whenever corridor reconstruction or reconfiguration occurs.”

The project also includes new curbs, gutters, and driveways, as well as utility upgrades.

Boulder City will be replacing sections of the sewer main and all water services, and installing a new irrigation system and fire hydrants. Boulder City’s utility department is contributing funding for the utility upgrades.

Additionally, the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) has contributed funding for full-depth repairs to sections of the asphalt along the parkway.

The total cost for the project is estimated to be around $18 million. RTC provided the design phase funding and will also provide up to $15 million for the construction of the project.

Future of the road

Construction of the complete streets improvements are set to begin late this month and is expected to last 10 months.

The construction contract was awarded to American Civil Constructors (ACC) and is a construction manager at risk (CMAR) delivery method, guaranteeing the project will come in within the maximum dollar amount allocated, according to Jim Keane, city engineer with Boulder City.

ACC is also exploring ways to shorten the construction time, hoping to reduce impacts to businesses and local traffic during construction.

Keane explains that the project is the first of three planned phases to transform the entire length of Boulder City Parkway. Phase II will see improvements to the roadway between Veterans Memorial Drive and Railroad Pass, while Phase III will finish off the complete streets project between Buchanan Blvd. and the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

Neither phase II or III are funded yet, but the city plans to begin work with the RTC to allocate design funding for phase II as soon as construction begins on the first phase of the project.


City of North Las Vegas, YMCA partner to offer teens free summer membership

Skyview YMCA located in North Las Vegas.

The city of North Las Vegas has partnered with the YMCA of Southern Nevada to provide local teens a free summer membership to the SkyView YMCA, 3050 E. Centennial Parkway.

Teens between the age of 13 and 17 can enroll in the Summer Teen Engagement Program (STEP), which gives them four months of free access to the SkyView YMCA, along with pool parties, access to a state-of-the-art fitness center, group exercise classes, and a new outdoor sports court. Each teen also will receive a free beach towel and other goodies.

Through the STEP membership, teens will also have access to an intern program and volunteer opportunities.

Enrollment is open through July 31. The STEP membership lasts four months from date of enrollment.

For more information about membership or to register for the program, contact Ray Fraser, executive director of SkyView YMCA, at 702-998-9101 or at rfraser@lasvegasymca.org.


Check out the new ‘Resources’ tab on our website

The new Resources tab on the SNS website features useful tools and
information related to implementation of the SNS regional plan.

Savvy users of the Southern Nevada Strong (SNS) website will notice a seemingly small change to the 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 of the SNS site and provide for an dedicated 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.

 

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

San Jose plans to bring high-speed internet to 50,000 homes in the next 10 years through a recently launched “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 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 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.

 

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.