$100M project to redesign one of Las Vegas’ busiest throughways could last 7 years

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – One of the busiest throughways in Las Vegas is preparing to be dug up and rebuilt, costing the city millions of dollars more than first expected in an area encompassing several low-income communities.

The Stewart Avenue Complete Street Project was first announced in 2022 and focused on four and a half miles between 6th Street and Nellis Boulevard. 28% of the area’s population lives below the poverty line, according to Nicole Melton.

She is the project’s engineering manager, who told 8 News Now the poor conditions of the road and adjoining sidewalks have been on the city’s “radar” for years.

“We need to provide options so that they have a means of transportation, and right now if you’re out there, the sidewalks have some obstructions,” Melton said inside city hall Wednesday, acknowledging a vast dependence on walking and public transportation by nearby residents.

<em>Renderings of the completed project indicate what Stewart Avenue near Downtown Las Vegas could look like by 2029. (City of Las Vegas)</em>
Renderings of the completed project indicate what Stewart Avenue near Downtown Las Vegas could look like by 2029. (City of Las Vegas)

“The goal of the Stewart Avenue Project is to provide more safety, more equity, and make more accessible options,” she added.

On the drawing board for the project is a laundry list of improvements and additions, some of which are stipulated as part of the federal funding received for it. They include:

  • Widened sidewalks

  • Resurfaced streets

  • Protected bicycle lanes

  • Replaced street lights

  • Midblock pedestrian crosswalks and signals

  • Significant landscaping and shade-bearing tree installation

  • Bus stop improvements

  • Traffic light and crosswalk technology enhancements

Renderings of the completed project show portions of the road closer to Downtown Las Vegas with one-lane travel in both directions, parking spots protecting bike lanes from the main road, and one turn lane in the middle. Other renderings indicate travel returning to two lanes in both directions east of Eastern, closer to residential neighborhoods.

As recent as this past January, the city’s public works department director projected the cost as “north of $50 million.” $23.9 million of that came via the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program, which aims to help urban and rural communities modernize roads and create safer transportation options.

<em>Renderings of the completed project indicate what Stewart Avenue near east-valley neighborhoods could look like by 2029. (City of Las Vegas)</em>
Renderings of the completed project indicate what Stewart Avenue near east-valley neighborhoods could look like by 2029. (City of Las Vegas)

Melton added that the city is required to match this funding, which will pay for the roadway-specific improvements. The Regional Flood Control District is also improving its storm drain facilities along Stewart from Eastern Avenue to the Las Vegas Wash.

“That is a separate funding source and that will be somewhere in the realm of $40 million to $50 million,” Melton said, acknowledging the total project cost will likely exceed $100 million. “We’re very early in design at this point. Those costs could change.”

If the city maintains its 2029 completion goal, the project will have spanned 7 years. Melton expects the formal design creation and performance of necessary environmental studies through the end of 2026 after beginning this past March.

Construction is scheduled to begin in 2027, which is about two years later than the timeline announced in 2022.

“As engineers, we must take public safety into account first and foremost, so that’s why sometimes projects like this take so long,” Melton said. “There are stipulations as part of the (federal) grant, so that is the timeline that we are sticking to, and we are going to do everything in our power to make sure that happens.”

For context, Melton points to the Las Vegas Boulevard Construction Project which she said required three years of construction and around a decade of designing beforehand.

Those living along the street, such as Crystal Verdejo, said they depend on public transit to travel to work and school. Walking to these bus stops is not always safe, she added.

“There’s no bike lane. The sidewalks are not humongous, so we all got to share,” Verdejo said, standing on her front lawn that borders the road Wednesday morning. “I have seen people jump the curb… (Drivers) just don’t want to wait for the cars to pass by. They try to come out and they almost get in car accidents. I’ve seen it multiple times out here and I’ve seen it multiple times out here and I’ve only lived here since November.”

Business owners along Stewart Avenue, like Craig Duerson of Assurance Behavioral Health, are expecting more customers and less traffic buildup. His business is located next to a short window to get on and off the freeway, which he calls a hotspot of collisions.

“I actually stay late so I can drive out and miss the traffic,” Duerson said outside his business Wednesday morning. “(The project) would definitely bring a different kind of foot traffic through here.”

The city is hosting a town hall-type community meeting Wednesday night inside the East Las Vegas Community Center at 5:30 pm. Melton said it will be the first of several meetings, though future ones will likely not be scheduled until early 2025.

Additional project-specific information can be found on its website.

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