Boulder City prepares for first stretch of new interstate I-11 to open

It’s 15 miles of new road! But see why a freeway designed to improve your travel could also damage an entire city! (Tom Hawley | KSNV)

It's the first new interstate built in this country in nearly 20 years.

Next week, the first stretch opens to the public.

Interstate 11 will eventually link Las Vegas to Phoenix.

Step inside The Chicken Shack in Boulder City and you can't help but notice the license plates -- colorful decorations of the road, as traffic rushes by on U.S. 93.

"It's every state. I collected some, our guests have brought me a bunch," said Anna Fisher, owner of The Chicken Shack. "A lot of semi trucks. A lot of semi trucks."

For Fisher, I-11 is a welcome addition to ease congestion.

"A lot of elderly people are terrified of this street. So I think they might be able to come out a little more," said Fisher.

On Tuesday, the first stretch of I-11 opens to traffic with the southbound lanes near Railroad Pass Casino. It's a short stretch, but it's a start, linking Henderson to the edge of the Hoover Dam bridge, saving motorists precious time.

"A 30-minute time savings for a 15-mile stretch is good. Higher speeds, direct shot," said Tony Illia, spokesman for the Nevada Department of Transportation.

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And now, Boulder City is hoping to jump start its own economy, courtesy I-11.

It's called the "Hoover Dam Gateway Project."

Mayor Rod Woodbury says the idea is to add light industrial businesses near the new interchange at I-11 and U.S. 95.

"Things like data centers, distribution centers, probably a travel center or two," said Woodbury.

Woodbury says the project would mean jobs and a new tax base for Boulder City.

I think it's fantastic for the economy. We're talking millions or tens of millions that be injected eventually into Boulder City's economy," said Woodbury.

It's a project, he says, that will not change the small town feel of his city.

As for Fisher, she welcomes the interstate, which will unclog traffic while keeping visitors from far and wide coming back to The Chicken Shack.

"We're still going to get tourists going to Hoover Dam," said Fisher. "Chicken strips and wings. Super good!"

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