NV construction project to impede traffic on state’s busiest highway for 18 months

An 18-month-long construction project starting Tuesday will snarl traffic on Interstate 15 while crews raise and widen a key interchange serving the Las Vegas Strip, transportation officials said.

The $305 million project has been dubbed “Dropicana” by the Nevada Department of Transportation. That’s a reference to the scheduled demolition of the Tropicana Avenue overpass so it can be rebuilt wider for traffic and safer for pedestrians near some of the city’s biggest casino-hotels and venues, including Allegiant Stadium and T-Mobile Arena.

Work will require several multi-day closures of all lanes of I-15, including this coming weekend from Friday evening to early Monday. For travelers and truckers, that will cause detours and delays on the main route between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City. The stretch of interstate is the busiest highway in Nevada.

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An 18-month-long construction project named "Dropicana" begins Tuesday. Crews are aiming to widen Nevada’s busiest highway Interstate 15. 

An 18-month-long construction project named “Dropicana” begins Tuesday. Crews are aiming to widen Nevada’s busiest highway Interstate 15. 

“Today we sort of ease into it,” department spokesman Justin Hopkins said Tuesday. He pointed to the closures of an exit ramp to westbound Tropicana Avenue, for nine months, and an eastbound flyover toward the Strip, until mid-2025. Tropicana Avenue itself will close late Saturday.

“We are really urging drivers to avoid I-15 during the weekend of the closure if possible,” Hopkins told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Unless you work on the Strip or are visiting one of fabulous resorts, it’s best to go around the closures.”

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The closures are being labeled as a “regional traffic event,” and officials are warning commuters about months of congestion on side streets where interstate motorists and trucks will be detoured. Department data shows I-15 near Tropicana Avenue handles 300,000 or more vehicles per day.

NDOT pointed in a statement to holiday weekends that draw as many as 300,000 visitors to the city. It said widening the Tropicana Avenue interchange “will add capacity, improve accessibility to the Strip and allow for the future widening of I-15.”

Federal funds will pay almost $160 million of the cost of the project, including a $50 million Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2020, the Las Vegas Sun reported. State gas tax money will fund the remainder of the cost.

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