As Las Vegas continues to grow, transport must be addressed

Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018|2 a.m.

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About 420 local company and neighborhood leaders got excellent news Tuesday about the state of the Southern Nevada economy during a breakfast presentation by the Las Vegas Global and Economic Alliance.

But here’s hoping the audience members hadn’t moved their attention back to their eggs and bacon as Jonas Peterson, president and CEO of the LVGEA, went over the steps required for the valley’s economy to keep humming along.

Secret amongst those actions was to improve our transport system, which is suffering from a deadly combination of being designed for a bygone time and being swamped by a growing number of cars.

As Peterson mentioned, the Southern Nevada population is anticipated to balloon by 600,000 over the next seven years while visitor numbers are forecasted to grow by 10 million in that very same time. The mathematics works out to this: By 2025, Las Vegas will be home to 2.7 million homeowners and will draw 53 million yearly visitors.

Those are shocking numbers, and building enough roads to manage that many more individuals merely isn’t practical. Sometimes– most especially the Las Vegas Strip– it’s not even possible. Las Vegas Boulevard is as wide as it’s going to get.

So how do we move forward?

One essential need is to enhance and broaden multimodal transport, a technique that would consist of building a light-rail system linking McCarran International Airport, the Strip and eventually downtown and North Las Vegas.

Another crucial step is to embrace autonomous cars, like the driverless shuttle that has been operating downtown since November.

Combined with ongoing build-out of the Interstate 11 project linking Phoenix and Las Vegas, the enhancements would help visitors get here and get around while they’re here.

Cannot move forward isn’t an alternative if Las Vegas wants to stay globally competitive.

Other cities long ago recognized the requirement for more effective public transport, especially light rail. San Francisco, Phoenix, Denver, even Salt Lake City saw the light, to name a few neighborhoods in our general area, and have actually developed excellent systems.

They recognized light rail for exactly what it is: a modern-day necessity, not a luxury, to attract tourists and convention visitors, and to keep a workforce moving efficiently and efficiently.

Every day Las Vegas does not make development towards a light-rail system, the enhancement gets more costly and overdue. And the roadways and highways get more congested.

Bear in mind, too, that the Strip is about to get a lot more crowded– especially on the northern end. Wynn Resorts’ Paradise Park project and the brand-new hotel it prepares to build across the street from the Wynn and Repetition will add a minimum of 3,500 hotel spaces to the city’s stock in the next few years, and Genting Resorts World will include 3,000 more. The Las Vegas Convention Center growth on the website of the previous Riviera resort will create increased traffic on the Strip, too.

So it’s important for regional, state and congressional leaders to obtain on board and make light-rail a top priority.

The stakes are huge. Peterson mentioned that Company Facilities Publication, which concentrates on information for corporations seeking to broaden or relocate, noted Nevada at No. 3 in its latest rankings for financial development capacity.

The local economy is diversifying, wages are rising, employment is at an all-time high and our real estate market is healthy, Peterson stated. Another motivating indication: The mean home earnings of locals transferring to Nevada is nearly 20 percent higher today than in 2012, and the median age is down.

So the signs are indicating an appealing future. However for Las Vegas to reach its complete capacity, it’s crucial that we go full speed on light rail.

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